BOISE — Family members of a 19-year-old woman who was shot and killed on the Boise Bench in April will not be allowed to wear T-shirts honoring her memory to pretrial hearings for the man accused of killing her, a judge maintained Thursday.
In past hearings, the family of Briana Martinez have worn shirts in her honor, printed with photographs of her and message such as “rest in peace Briana Martinez,” prosecutor Jeff White said.
An order was posted outside the courtroom detailing what attire is acceptable in the courtroom. White said a court official at the last hearing told them “that they were to exit the courtroom and would not be allowed inside while wearing those T-shirts, unless they turned them inside out.”
In court Thursday, White questioned 4th District Court Judge Samuel Hoagland about this rule, calling it unnecessary.
“The actual T-shirts the family members are wearing do not fall under the court’s order at all,” White said, “because the court’s order prohibits the wearing or displaying of distracting, disruptive, prejudicial or inappropriate messages or attire.”
Even Tom Callery, Alcala’s attorney, didn’t have a problem with family members wearing the shirts to pretrial hearings. Attorneys agreed family shouldn’t wear them to trial, but didn’t see a problem with them in the months leading up to it.
The judge said the shirts do pose a problem.
“The court is obviously concerned that in a case where the defendant is charged with murder I do not want to see any emotional outbursts or things of that nature,” Hoagland said. “And I do believe that shirts of this nature could inspire or induce problems and difficulties, as between the defendant and others, or as between others who might be in the courtroom.”
The man on trial for the murder is Anthony Alcala, 20. He faces a second-degree murder charge and two counts of aggravated battery for two others who were injured in the shooting, including Briana Martinez’s sister.
White said he believed the family members have a right — under the Idaho Constitution and the First Amendment — to wear the shirts to court.
Hoagland said he believed he had discretion, as a judge, to rule on the matter.
“I am choosing to exercise that discretion in the interest of safety and proper courtroom decorum,” he said.
The shooting occurred April 14 in the 1900 block of South Owyhee Street. Briana Martinez was killed, and her sister, Natalie Martinez, 21, hospitalized. A third person, Sonny Heidenreich, now 20, was also shot that night and survived.
Police and prosecutors say Taja McMurtrey-Winn, 22, and 18-year-old Jessica Perez assisted Alcala in the shooting by helping him flee the scene and hide from police. All three were arrested the next day, April 15, in Meridian. McMurtrey-Winn and Perez were charged with accessory to a felony.
The shooting appears to have stemmed from a fight over past grudges and broken romantic relationships, witnesses said at a hearing in June. At the close of that hearing, a judge ruled there was enough evidence for the case against Alcala to move forward; McMurtrey-Winn and Perez had waived their right to any such hearing.
Hoagland scheduled the trials of Alcala and McMurtrey-Winn for Feb. 24. Attorneys believe Alcala’s trial will last between two and three weeks.
Perez is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 1.