Miguel Angel Martinez is a man who was sentenced to death for his role in a “satanic murder” in 1991.
Martinez’s story is featured on the Netflix series ‘I Am a Killer,’ which chronicles the experiences and stories of people convicted of capital murder. His story is featured in the fourth episode, “Sympathy for the Devil.”
Miguel Angel Martinez was the youngest person to be sentenced to death in Texas history, at the time of his sentencing. In 2002, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Martinez & Two Others Were All Implicated in a Triple Axe-And-Knife Murder
Martinez, Manuel “Milo” Flores, and Miguel Angel Venegas were all implicated in the “satanic murder” that was committed in the small town of Laredo, Texas, which left three people dead from a gruesome murder.
However, they were given very different sentences. Flores was freed from any punishment, as he never entered the house; Venegas was initially given 41 years of prison on three counts of murder (he was 16 years old at the time of the murder, so his case bounced around for a while as the court decided whether to try him as a juvenile or an adult; he was eventually tried as an adult), and Martinez was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.
2. Martinez Said He Met Venegas ‘In Class,’ & They Later Met Flores at a Party
Martinez said to Netflix, “Venegas was sixteen at the time, and Fores was seventeen and I was seventeen…Milo [was wealthy] and had the means to get drugs. That was what joined us: smoking marijuana and doing cocaine.”
Martinez continued, “[Venegas] was not someone I necessarily enjoyed having around.” Of the night of the murder, Martinez said, “I can’t say that there was a reason…or an intention in going to this particular house. Milo and I had been there before a couple of times [to steal things in exchange for drugs.]”
3. Martinez Had Been Given Keys to the House of James Smiley, One of the Victims
James Smiley was a youth baptist counselor who Martinez claims took an interest in him, even offering keys to his house. “I think it can be considered him seeing somebody that needed a father, or somebody that was disadvantaged, and trying to help,” Martinez said.
“I actually stayed with him at night [a few times], and going to work the next morning, he was my ride,” Martinez said. “We decided to go to that house. It was supposed to be what we had done before. Nobody home, go in and take something.”
They had a baseball bat, an axe, and some knives, per Martinez’s account.
4. The Robbery Turned Into a Murder Because of ‘Satanic’ Impulses by Venegas, According to Martinez
“When we got to the house,” Martinez said, “I had a bad feeling. Venegas walks over, [and] when he came back he told me there’s somebody in the house, which was a surprise. My thoughts were to get away…there was something that changed with Venegas. He was on a mission, and it was not to go steal anything…to him, he was on a mission from Satan.”
“Satan wanted their souls,” Martinez said, adding that the reason he personally didn’t leave was because he was afraid of Venegas by that point in the evening.
“Venegas had the axe, and he hit [a guy] one time,” Martinez said. “And he started stabbing the guy on the couch. The part that I remember is Venegas looking up at me and telling me it was my turn.”
Martinez explained that he began to stab the body, too, then walked away through a sliding door. Martinez said that he wasn’t aware that while he was gone, Venegas had stabbed someone else. “What I remember is saying I wanted to leave, and he told me to give him the axe, and he walked down the hallway to the back room. I didn’t see what he did. When he came back, he told me there was a guy back there, and that Satan wanted their soul.”
Martinez and Venega ended up taking one TV from the living room, then leaving.
5. Venegas Has Since Confirmed That He Was Motivated by a ‘Satanic’ Impulse
Venegas has since confirmed Martinez’s claim that Satanic impulses played a role in Venegas’ motivation for the murders. “I come from a machista culture,” Venegas said to Netflix. “A dare is a dare.”
“At eight years old, I became convinced that I was the son of the devil,” Venegas said. “There used to be a bunch of black widow spiders, and I would fill up a jar of black widows, and take off my shirt…and I’d just put the black widows on my chest. None of them ever bit me, so I’m convincing myself I’m the son of the devil.”
Venegas added that when he went to the back hallway after he’d killed the man on the couch, one of the victims woke up, looked at him, and went back to sleep. He said, “I’m thinking to myself, ‘The devil’s got my back.’”
Venegas confirmed that he truly believed the devil was going to kill him if he didn’t kill those people.
One of the officers at the time of the investigation has since said to Netflix, “The level of violence was incredible…their bodies, their heads were smashed. In the master bedroom…the crucifix had been turned upside down.”