Bautista formally charged in death of ex-girlfriend

January 4, 2010 6:42:22 PM PST
A San Jose family is outraged over the charges facing the woman accused of killing their daughter. They hoped for a murder charge, but the district attorney says it is manslaughter for the ex-girlfriend of 20-year-old Lettie Martinez. Police said Martinez died last Monday, after being dragged or pulled by a vehicle.

Jennifer Bautista spent one minute and one second in a Santa Clara County Court for her arraignment hearing on Monday. Those 61 seconds left the family of her dead ex-girlfriend angry and frustrated, but hardly speechless.

"I think she should get more than manslaughter. She murdered my niece," Mary Ramirez, the victim's aunt said.

Norma 'Lettie' Martinez of Alviso died last week after being found in the street, bleeding and injured, run over by a car.

Witnesses told police she had been arguing with Bautista, who tried to drive away, and that Martinez jumped on the hood of the car before it left and that the car stopped a second time before driving away.

"She left my sister to die in the street like a dog. Like an animal," Raul Estrada, the victim's brother said.

The district attorney's office said that based on the evidence so far, manslaughter is the more appropriate charge.

"According to the complaint, manslaughter carries a caveat that we do not believe there was specific intent, malice, or forethought before this crime occurred," district attorney Spokesperson Nick Muyo said.

But, the district attorney charged Bautista with two felonies -- vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and hit and run. It added a third misdemeanor charge of driving without a license.

The Martinez family blames not only Bautista for this, but also her family for disapproving of the relationship.

"They say my sister was a sinner because she was a lesbian? Their daughter committed the ultimate sin. She took a life," Estrada said.

The Bautista family made no comments to the press. The court set bail at $500,000 and Bautista will be back in court next week.