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New Mexico court: Rape protections endure after death

February 25, 2021 GMT
Mobile police surveillance cameras watch over the entrance to the New Mexico State Capitol during the annual legislative session on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)
Mobile police surveillance cameras watch over the entrance to the New Mexico State Capitol during the annual legislative session on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Thursday that legal protections against rape extend to victims who are unable to express consent — including the dead.

The high court upheld a rape conviction against a Clovis man accused of stabbing a woman and then raping her dead body.

Lorenzo Martinez was convicted of murder and rape in the 2017 stabbing death of a 57-year-old woman.

On appeal, attorneys for Martinez argued that New Mexico law requires that a rape victim be alive at the time of the crime for criminal statutes to apply.

The court disagreed and said its decision sets a legal precedent.

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“It would be contrary to the spirit of the statute to exclude victims who were unable to consent or resist solely because the perpetrator ‘rendered the victim permanently unconscious’ by killing the victim,” Justice David Thomson wrote in the opinion.

The opinion notes that New Mexico law does not prohibit necrophilia or abuse of a corpse and invited the Legislature to make changes.

Clovis police say Martinez contacted officers in 2017 to report that he stabbed a woman multiple times and then had sex with her twice after she died.

The Supreme Court also reaffirmed the murder conviction against Martinez despite a medical diagnosis of schizophrenia. He may be eligible for parole in 30 years.

If released, he would have to register as a sex offender for life and serve a term of parole from five years to life.