Department of Justice seal U.S. Department of Justice

Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California

United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012

August 30, 2005
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947


Los Angeles, CA - A San Bernardino woman has pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the kidnaping and murder of her husband, whom she drugged, drove to Mexico and strangled.

Isabel Martinez, 37, pleaded guilty to a federal kidnaping charge Monday afternoon in United States District Court in Riverside. By pleading guilty, Martinez admitted that she drove her husband, who had been drinking and had been drugged with over-the-counter sleep medication, to Mexico, where she killed him.

According to a plea agreement, on August 16, 2003, Martinez kidnaped her husband, Raul Perez Bethancourth, by driving him from San Bernardino County to Mexico. Martinez gave Bethancourth, who had been drinking alcohol that day, several Tylenol PM pills and drove him to Mexico, where she strangled him with a piece of clothes line. Martinez dumped Bethancourtís body and returned to San Bernardino.

Martinez filed a missing persons report with local authorities. Martinez confessed to the murder when San Bernardino Police asked follow-up questions to the missing persons report. Martinez was arrested on September 3, 2003. According to the plea agreement, Martinez claimed that she killed Bethancourth in response to years of physical and emotional abuse.

Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips on December 12. At sentencing, Martinez faces a possible sentence of life without parole in federal prison. However, the plea agreement between the government and Martinez asks the court to impose a sentence of 25 years in prison.

This case is the result of a joint investigation by special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and police officers from the San Bernardino Police Department. Mexican law enforcement authorities provided their cooperation during the investigation.


Release No. 05-122

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