Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009 | 8:52 p.m.
The street fight appeared like any other between two teenage boys.
They faced off, exchanged harsh words, pushed each other and threw punches.
Or rather witnesses thought they were just punches until they saw blood.
Instead, the larger boy throwing the punches had a paring knife with a 3-inch blade in his hand and thrust it repeatedly into the other boy.
A few hours later, 17-year-old Richard Martinez died in the hospital from multiple stab wounds.
His attacker, Steven Hogue, will spend at least 16 years in a Nevada prison and could remain there for life after being sentenced today for second-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon.
Clark County District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt on Tuesday followed the terms of a plea agreement in sentencing Hogue to a minimum of 10 years to life. The weapons enhancement added a consecutive term of 6-15 years.
The 17-year-old Hogue will be eligible for parole when he’s 33 years old.
There were approximately 10 to 20 witnesses, mostly between 12 and 16 years old, who saw the altercation on Oct. 8, 2008, near the corner of Torrey Pines Drive and Dinning Avenue in the northwest part of the valley.
Their accounts to police vary as to who started the fight and what actually happened.
Hogue has no record of violence with the courts and those who knew him said he was no angel, but he was kind and caring and never violent.
“That’s why this crime is so unexplainable, so sad and so tragic,” said Deputy Public Defender Tim O’Brien, Hogue’s attorney.
The boys knew each other for more than a year, lived a few blocks apart and became friends because of their shared hobbies and habits, said Scott Hogue, Steven Hogue’s father.
Neither one was attending high school any longer, both used marijuana and both tagged graffiti, he said.
Martinez lived with the Hogues for about six weeks during the summer until an alleged altercation with his girlfriend in the apartment, Scott Hogue said.
“He went everywhere with us. We took him to the lake. We took him out to dinner. He did a lot of things with us as a family,” he said.
One friend who knew both the teens told police the falling out was from a graffiti incident. Hogue allegedly crossed out Martinez’s moniker. The boys were not known to be part of any gangs, despite their penchants for tagging.
Some who saw the fight said Martinez made threats a day or two earlier that he wanted to shoot Hogue because of the graffiti, according to witness statements and court records.
Witnesses told police that Martinez sometimes carried a small black gun.
Hogue also knew Martinez had access to a gun and believed he was carrying it that day, O’Brien said, so he acted in self-defense.
“Steven Hogue acted in an extremely unreasonable fashion. He unreasonably believed that his life was in danger,” he said. “He (Martinez) did not deserve to die. However, this confrontation was not completely one-sided.”
Prior to confrontation, Martinez and other youngsters from the neighborhood were buying candy from ice cream vendors parked near Dinning and Hinkle Street when Hogue approached.
Hogue lived across the street in the Catalina Apartments. According to Scott Hogue, his son was walking across the street with a friend to pick up the friend’s younger brother from Garside Junior High School.
“What happened at this point...you’re going to hear some different versions,” Deputy District Attorney Tim Fattig told Leavitt. “Certainly, I would acknowledge that words were said. They weren’t getting along. What words were said, I think are in dispute.”
Hogue carried a knife to cut wax that was used for greasing rails and curbs to make skateboard tricks easier, O’Brien said. But he had no intention of confronting Martinez that day.
“This crime wasn’t thought out. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t deliberated over,” O’Brien said. “What we have is a chance meeting on the street and a mutual confrontation. They were talking trash back to one another.”
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Hogue outsized Martinez by seven inches and 85 pounds. During the fight, Martinez tried to escape twice and push Hogue off of him, according the criminal complaint.
Detectives recovered the knife blade on the street that had broken off from the handle. Some witnesses said Hogue picked up the handle when he walked away.
Police matched two knives in the Hogues’ apartment that had the same writing on the blades as the one recovered at the scene.
Police did not recover a gun on Martinez because he wasn’t carrying one, Fattig said.
The coroner’s report noted seven sharp force wounds to Martinez’s torso, one incised injury to his nose and eight incised wounds to his limbs and hands, which Fattig said were defensive wounds. One cut perforated his lung and heart.
Hogue also stabbed himself once.
“It was such a rampage of rage that he actually cut his own thigh,” Fattig said.
Hogue left the scene and eluded police for about 36 hours. He turned himself in on Oct. 9, 2008.
“I would submit his actions are obviously irreversible, devastating to not only Richard and his family... but also all the children that were out there,” Fattig said. “These kids will never be able to erase the memories of that, what they saw.”
Martinez’s mother and step-father spoke during the sentence hearing saying watching him die was the worst moment in their lives.
“I watched him try to fight to stay on as hard as he could for four hours at the trauma center,” said Don Griego, Martinez’s step-father. “There’s nothing more surreal than to see a 17-year-old kid that you loved as your own lying in a casket.”
Giovanni Griego held a picture of her son, Richard, and said his last words were to tell her that he loved her.
“He was my life,” she said.
Scott Hogue said his son deserves to be punished for his actions but deserves another chance after serving his time.
“He needs to be punished and he accepted his responsibility. He accepted 10 to life,” he said. “Richard’s dead. You can’t take that away. That was a horrible thing. My son could be in the slab right now and Richard in jail. It could have gone either way very easily.”
Richard Marsh said he worked with Scott Hogue for 15 years and watched Steven Hogue grow up with his own children.
In all that time, Steven Hogue never showed signs of violence, he said.
“He was just a good kid,” he said. “I can only hope that Stevie takes from this that he still has a chance. Because if he’s a model prisoner and gets his education...he has a chance of coming out successful.”