The Supreme Court of Virginia released an order Thursday, dismissing an appeal about continued custody of a man accused of rape and murder in James City County.
Oswaldo Martinez is a deaf-mute undocumented immigrant from El Salvador. He is accused of raping and killing 16-year-old Brittany Binger in January 2005.
Martinez, 47, had an appeal hearing with the Supreme Court of Virginia on Oct. 31 in which his attorney, Tim Clancy, focused on the civil mechanisms holding Martinez in custody, rather than the underlying capital charges against him.
But during the hearing, Senior Assistant Attorney General Matthew Dullaghan argued the case doesn’t have a place in the Supreme Court of Virginia because the order holding Martinez from the Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court is not a final civil judgement.
In the order Thursday, the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled it does not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal, because “the determination of one’s competency to stand trial occurs while the circuit court retains jurisdiction over the criminal prosecution.”
According to the ruling, the Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court maintains jurisdiction over Martinez’s competency capabilities because it is part of a criminal process, which makes the appeal of the determinations criminal in nature as well.
The case has remained complicated for prosecutors over the years because Martinez has been deemed incompetent for trial because of his inability to both process communication sufficiently enough to understand trial proceedings.
Martinez still has a right to receive efforts toward competency restoration so that his case may go to trial, eventually.
But experts have worked with him over the years and have determined that he may never be competent for trial, according to court documents.
Clancy was not immediately available for comment Thursday.