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Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-020

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

SAN BERNARDINO WOMAN SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS IN PRISON FOR KIDNAP AND MURDER OF HUSBAND


Los Angeles, CA - A San Bernardino woman who pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the kidnaping and murder of her husband – who was drugged, taken to Mexico and strangled – has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Isabel Martinez, 37, received the prison term late Tuesday afternoon from United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips in Riverside.

Martinez pleaded guilty last August to kidnaping, admitting 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 filed in the case, on August 16, 2003, Martinez kidnaped her husband, Raul Perez Bethancourth, by driving him from San Bernardino County to Mexico. Martinez gave Bethancourth several Tylenol PM pills and drove him to Mexico, where she strangled him with a piece of clothes line. Martinez dumped Bethancourt’s body and returned to San Bernardino.

Martinez subsequently 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. The plea agreement between the government and Martinez asked Judge Phillips to impose the 25-year sentence.

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 cooperation during the investigation.

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Release No. 06-020

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