Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Monday, May 20, 2002


Johnny Joe Martinez Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Johnny Joe Martinez, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22, 2002.

On Jan. 27, 1994, Johnny Joe Martinez was sentenced to death for the capital murder of Clay Peterson during a robbery, which occurred in Corpus Christi, Texas, on July 15, 1993. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.


On July 15, 1993, at approximately 3:20 a.m., Johnny Joe Martinez entered a 7-Eleven convenience store in Corpus Christi and fatally stabbed the store's clerk with a pocketknife. According to the store's security camera videotape, the clerk, 20-year-old Clay Peterson, was working alone at the store when Martinez put a pocketknife to his throat and demanded money. Though Peterson complied with Martinez' orders and surrendered the money in the store's cash register, Martinez stabbed Peterson about 10 times, including twice in the neck. Peterson also sustained several scratches to his neck and defensive wounds to his hands.

Martinez had previously visited the same convenience store only 20 minutes before murdering Peterson. During the initial visit, Martinez used the store's restroom and shoplifted several items, then returned to his companion's waiting car and contemplated how easy it would be to rob the store.


Martinez was indicted for the capital murder of Clay Peterson on July 15, 1993, in the 347th Judicial District Court of Nueces County, Texas. He pled "not guilty."

Trial on the merits began on Jan. 24, 1994, and on Jan. 26, 1994, the jury returned a verdict of "guilty." Following a separate punishment hearing, the same jury answered "yes" to the future dangerousness special issue and found that no mitigating circumstance warranted that Martinez be sentenced to life imprisonment. Consequently, the trial court assessed punishment at death.

Martinez' conviction and sentence were automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, but the court affirmed and denied rehearing. Martinez did not seek certiorari review in the Supreme Court.

On April 21, 1997, Martinez petitioned for state habeas relief. The state habeas court recommended that relief be denied, and on April 29, 1998, the Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the recommendation.

On July 23, 1998, Martinez filed a petition for federal habeas corpus relief in the district court. The district court entered a final judgment denying relief on Aug. 24, 1999, but allowed Martinez to appeal the judgment to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a published decision issued June 22, 2001, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of relief.

On Feb. 25, 2002, the Supreme Court denied Martinez' petition for writ of certiorari. Martinez filed a successive state writ in the Court of Criminal Appeals on or about April 12, 2002. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied Martinez's successive state writ on May 1, 2002.

On May 15, 2002, Martinez filed in the U.S. Supreme Court an application for a stay of execution and another petition for a writ of certiorari. A second successive state writ was filed on May 16, 2002, in the Court of Criminal Appeals.


Martinez has no prior criminal history.


For additional information and statistics, please log on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website,

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