Quadriplegic Rapist to be Released from Prison

By Lauren Steussy and Chris Chan
|  Saturday, Nov 17, 2012  |  Updated 1:59 PM PDT
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Steven Martinez was serving a 157 year prison sentence for a violent rape. But the man who was paralyzed while serving that sentence is being released on medical leave because the court feels he is no longer a threat to society.

Steven Martinez was serving a 157 year prison sentence for a violent rape. But the man who was paralyzed while serving that sentence is being released on medical leave because the court feels he is no longer a threat to society.

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A California appeals court has granted the release of a quadriplegic rapist who was considered an excessive cost to the state.

Steven Martinez was convicted of several counts of violent rape in 1998 after he drove his car over a woman, assaulted her, kidnapped her and then raped her.

While serving his sentence in 2001, Martinez was attacked by two other inmates and was stabbed in the neck. The wound paralyzed him instantly. As an inmate, his caretakers say he remains an "angry, repulsive person."

Martinez applied last year to become the first inmate freed under a medical parole law that aims to reduce prison costs. He was turned down as a public safety risk. An appeals court in San Diego rejected that decision last month and ordered his release, according to the Associated Press.

His parents have agreed to take care of him in their San Diego home. Neighbors spoke to NBC 7 about the family, who they describe as great parents. One neighbor who did not want to be identified said Steven Martinez’ mother was a woman of devout faith and always willing to help when neighbors needed.

“They’re just nice people.They’re giving and caring,” she said.

Two neighbors also said they were not worried about their safety if he were to return to the neighborhood.

Martinez has no motor power in his arms or legs and can only move his head to a minimal degree. He does not have any control over his bowel or bladder, and will require 24-hour-a-day care for the rest of his life, according to a statement from his parole hearing.

The appeals court decision authorizing his release stated that "as a quadriplegic, the only way Martinez would be able to harm someone is by convincing another to do his bidding."

The San Diego District Attorney's office opposes Martinez' parole, saying he is still a risk to the public despite his condition.

"We have consistently opposed parole in this case because the inmate has made significant threats to his caretakers and nurses," a statement from the District Attorney's office read. "One court of appeal and the parole board agreed and have previously found that despite his condition, this inmate is still able to carry out his threats using other people, thus creating a public safety issue."

The Attorney General appealed the parole board's original decision to release Martinez, citing his history of threatening nurses.

According to appeals court documents, Martinez challenged the Parole Board’s decision to deny him medical parole in 2010.

On Saturday, NBC 7 visited the San Diego home of Martinez's parents. A woman answered the door and said the family has no comment on his release at this time.

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.

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