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Martinez case enters court proceedings: Defendant "smug" in Trans murder trial

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Zoella "Zoey" Rose Martinez — Photo courtesy of HRC
Zoella "Zoey" Rose Martinez — Photo courtesy of HRC

The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office received a completed investigation from law enforcement on Oct. 7 and thereafter filed two charges against 24-year-old Jacaree Rashad Hardy for causing the Aug. 31 death of 20-year-old Zoella "Zoey" Martinez, a Latina Transgender woman.

The arraignment took place on Oct. 21, during which prosecutors charged the defendant with murder in the second degree, attempt to assault in the second degree, and unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree. The defendant's previous King County convictions, for robbery and burglary, were also raised.

Emotions ran high during the court hearing. Hardy's family was in attendance; a younger male who was with the family (his relationship to them has not been determined) suggested obtaining a new lawyer for the trial that will start on Dec. 9. He even said, "How do they know that he even did it?"

Hardy pled not guilty, and his bail was set at $5 million. Hardy's next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 11.

Oliver Webb, chairperson of the nonprofit Diversity Alliance of Puget Sound (DAPS), which serves Transgender, nonbinary, genderfluid, gender-nonconforming, agender, intersex, Two Spirit, and questioning people in Washington state, has been in contact with the Martinez family to support and assist them through the tragedy of what happened to their daughter. Webb was among those who attended the arraignment.

"Hardy was smug and joked around with his family and friends through the glass," Webb said. "It is clear that he nor they care about the life he took. I sat behind half a dozen people who couldn't care less about Zoey Martinez, then an hour later I held her grieving family. I am not surprised by his behavior, nor those who came to support him, but it's still hard to witness. As this trial moves forward, it's clear this behavior will likely continue, and I am sickened for this family and community."

Hardy's hearing lasted approximately ten minutes. When it ended, Webb said, "Her family isn't even here!"

At that point, Martinez's family was not in the court room but rather another room, where they were able to listen. Immediately after Webb's remark, a middle-aged male shouted, "He's got a family!" and began walking over to Webb, at which point another member of Hardy's party blocked the man. (Presumably the man who shouted was Hardy's father, who may have misunderstood Webb's remark, although this has not been confirmed.)

Zoella "Zoey" Rose Martinez — Photo courtesy of Diversity Alliance of Puget Sound / Sarita Martinez  

The incident
Zoella Martinez was gunned down in Seattle on the night of Aug. 31. Martinez believed that Hardy owed her $1,000, which he allegedly stole from her during a fraud incident months prior.

Martinez and Hardy met in a Maple Valley parking lot. Martinez told her friend, who law enforcement refers to as "AC," that she was afraid to meet Hardy alone. Martinez texted AC a screenshot of Hardy's Facebook profile in addition to the meeting location, and asked her to be in the area during the time of the meeting out of safety concerns.

That night AC arrived late. Martinez texted her, saying that Hardy was six minutes away, at which point AC was eight minutes away. When AC arrived with her boyfriend, she saw her friend sitting in the passenger seat of a white or light-colored car, but the car sped off, driving upwards of 100 mph. AC attempted to follow, but she lost the car at an intersection. At 10:51 p.m., AC filed a missing-person's report with the King County Sheriff's Office.

A surveillance camera of the parking lot picked up footage of what happened that night. While Martinez was sitting in the light-colored car for about two minutes, the camera picked up five flashes of light that are consistent with a muzzle flash of a handgun being fired inside the vehicle. Twenty-three seconds later, AC arrived at the parking lot.

During the early hours of Sept. 1, the Seattle Police Department was notified of a woman lying on the ground in an alley in Greenwood. Detectives spoke with several witnesses. One said they walked down the alley right before midnight and there was no body there, but others said they saw a female lying on the ground at about 1 a.m. and ignored her because they thought she was passed out from intoxication.

Martinez was found dead with an emptied purse.

The light-colored car was found on Sept. 1, parked at the house where Hardy lived with his father, with blood on the passenger seat, fired cartridge cases, and a fired bullet. Law enforcement officials were able to match the light-colored car, a Lexus, to Hardy.

Jacaree Hardy — Photo courtesy of the City of Seattle  

Hardy was on the run for over a month before he was located by US marshalls on Oct. 6 at an apartment in Renton. He ignored calls to come out; he was found hiding under a bed.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office asked the judge to set bail for $5 million due to the danger he posed to the public and the likelihood of him not appearing for court.

Not much is known about the defendant other than he has a history of both juvenile and adult felony convictions. His juvenile felony convictions include:

  • Robbery in the second degree (twice in 2013)
  • Residential burglary (2013)
  • Attempted residential burglary (twice in 2013)
  • Possession of a stolen vehicle (2014)

    His adult felony convictions include:
  • Forgery (three times in 2017)
  • Unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree (2018)

  • According to the HRC, 2020 was the deadliest year on record for violence against Trans people, with 37 people reported killed in the US as of November 2020. Twenty-five of those deaths were Black or Latinx Trans women.