Benton County jury finds 2 brothers guilty of child rapes more than 20 years ago

Two brothers were found guilty Thursday of first-degree child rape by a Benton County Superior Court, more than two decades after they committed their crimes.

Alejandro S. Martinez, 39, and Eduardo S. Martinez, 38, fled to Connecticut soon after the victims reported the crimes and before they could be arrested, said Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller.

They were found at a home in Bridgeport, Conn., in March after one of the brothers was involved in a car crash.

This was the third time Eduardo Martinez had gone to trial and the second time for Alejandro Martinez on the rape charges.

“Sexual assault cases are always challenging to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, but the lengthy delay between the filing of the cases in 1998 and the subsequent prosecution in 2019 made the case even more difficult,” Miller posted on social media.

The older brother was accused of raping a grade-school boy when the brothers lived in Prosser.

His first-degree rape of a child case was filed in 1998 after the alleged sexual abuse was first disclosed to school officials.

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Eduardo Salgado-Martinez, left, and Alejandro Ocampo-Martinez were found guilty of child rapes when they were teens. Norwalk Police Department

He was accused of raping a boy in fall 1995, while babysitting. Alejandro Martinez would have been 15 at the time.

The younger brother was charged in 2000 with two counts of first-degree child rape of two boys. One of the boys was the same victim the older brother is accused of raping.

Brothers found guilty

Eduardo Martinez’s contact with the boys happened at separate times between August 1995 and January 1996, prosecutors said earlier this year. Martinez was 14 at the time.

Eduardo Martinez initially went to trial in May 2019, but a mistrial was declared after a detective mistakenly testified about part of the investigation that the jury was not supposed to hear about.

The cases then were joined for a single trial. The jury for that trial could not agree and a mistrial was declared in early July 2019.

Miller said much of the credit for the successful prosecution in Kennewick this month “goes to the two victims who had the courage to come to court years after the fact and relive the abuse they suffered in front of their abusers.”

They were faced with aggressive cross examination, he said.

“It was their credibility, supported by the thorough investigation and prosecution, that was the key to the guilty verdicts in this case,” Miller said.

He also gave credit to Deputy Prosecutor Laurel Holland for her painstaking preparation and to Detective Lee Cantu of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office for a thorough investigation both initially and in the follow-up 20 years later.

The men will be sentenced at a later date.

Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.