By: Sharon Aron Baron
A bottle of lemonade and a successful investigation by Coral Springs detectives helped nab a man accused in the 2011 murder of a local man.
Police said that Jason David Martinez, 28, a former Coral Springs resident, was arrested Oct. 19 in Port Jefferson, New York, and was extradited to Broward County after DNA evidence – from a lemonade bottle, linked him to the crime.
On July 10, 2011, Michael Hamilton, 31, was found stabbed to death inside his first-floor apartment at 9893 NW 33rd Street. The victim was last seen alive by a witness who saw him walking towards the residence. Authorities said there were clear signs of an intense struggle inside the residence and detectives noted blood spatter throughout much of the living room and kitchen area. Multiple items inside had been broken or moved around during the apparent struggle as well. Detectives discovered through an investigation and interview with the witness that $360, approximately $100 worth of marijuana and an M-4 replica Airsoft rifle were taken. Hamilton’s wallet was also found lying on the floor near his body, missing money.
During a search, Crime Scene Technicians swabbed multiple areas inside of the residence to include blood drops in various locations. Many of the swabs matched the victim’s DNA, however, there were multiple swabs taken from blood drops in close proximity to the victim that revealed a second, unknown DNA profile that didn’t match anyone in their database.
Jason David Martinez was identified through interviews with the victims’s friends in the days following his murder as an acquaintance of the victim. Martinez advised authorities that he had been informed of Hamilton’s murder, but denied killing him and denied being present in Hamilton’s apartment at the time of the murder. He provided an alibi for the night of the murder stating he had been fishing at the Pompano Beach Pier from 9:00 p.m until 4:00 a.m. During an interview with Martinez, detectives observed a fresh cut on the palm area of his right hand. He advised that the wound was sustained when he accidentally cut himself as he was cleaning fish on the night of Hamilton’s murder.
Authorities spoke with him two additional times in 2012, and both times he denied knowledge of the crime.
During the course of the investigation, detectives made contact with more than forty people who provided voluntary DNA samples to compare to the unknown profiles discovered at the crime scene. All individuals previously provided voluntary swabs of their DNA. However, detectives learned that Jason Martinez had relocated to the New York area and had not been asked to provide a consensual DNA testing.
On September 20, 2016 Coral Springs Detectives Koenig and Young went to New York City and observed Jason Martinez as he entered the Whole Foods Market at 808 Columbus Avenue. They watched as he sat down to eat in the dining room, carry a bottle of lemonade to the table and drink from from it several times. He then screwed the plastic cap back on and then deposited the bottle into the trash can outside of the store. After Martinez walked away, the bottle was collected and sealed in an evidence bag.
The lemonade bottle was later swabbed for DNA testing and sent to the Broward Sheriff’s Office Crime lab for comparison to the unknown DNA profiles taken from the crime scene. The profile obtained from the lemonade bottle matched the profile found in multiple blood drops at the crime scene indicating that Martinez was at the scene of the murder and bled in the apartment at the time, likely as a result of being injured during a struggle with Hamilton.
Martinez was extradited to Florida and booked in the Broward County Jail on February 8 for first-degree murder. He is being held without bond.
Police still believe more than one person participated in the homicide, and detectives are still actively investigating this case. If you knew Martinez prior to, or after the murder, or have any information, police have offered a reward. Please contact [email protected] or call Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.