Michael Astorga was given the gift of life imprisonment yesterday by a jury selected for the death penalty phase of his trial. The jury reported in the morning that they were hopelessly deadlocked and very afraid. The asked for police escorts and protection. The judge sent them back to continue deliberations and later in the afternoon they returned the verdict of LIFE plus 13 years for the murder of Deputy Sheriff James McGrane. He still faces charges for the murder of Candida Martinez.
But Michael Astorga is goring to jail where he has been before and wants to be because he can still control his gangs in jail. The jury that placed him there hope he will be merciful. The jury that found him guilty of the murder of Deputy McGrane is scared.
Michael Astorga has been committing violent crimes since he was a teenager. He was arrested in 1994 for battery. In 1996 he and his brother were charged with first degree murder—his brother was convicted but Michael walked. He has a long list of other crimes including another battery charge, property crimes, and a long list of drug crimes including trafficking—usually while carrying a deadly weapon.
In 1998 he was sentenced to prison for eight different felonies—but we released on good behavior only six years later. After this release, in March 2005, he was arrested for violating parole, but was released again in June 2005. Then, in November 2005 a warrant was issued for Astorga’s arrest for shooting Candida Martinez in the head. She died a few hours later and Astorga walked out of a meeting with his parole officer just a few hours after the warrant had been sworn out for his arrest.
Michael did not flee New Mexico. Albuquerque was his home turf. He was pulled over for a routine traffic stop by Deputy Sheriff James McGrane. Astorga shot him leaving McGrane’s wife a widow and his children fatherless. He should not have been free to murder Candida Martinez or Deputy McGrane. If our criminal justice system worked he would have been in jail as a repeat offender. Or sentenced to life after the 1996 murder with his brother. Or serving his full sentence for the eight felonies he was found guilty of in 1998,
Astorga has no redeeming social values. He is not going to be rehabilitated and become a contributing member of society. During the death penalty phase of his murder trial for Deputy McGrane he called character witnesses including the Archbishop of Santa Fe, who didn't show up. And his attorney's claimed extenuating circumstances. It would be funny if it was not so serious for our society. Justice is broken. Very broken. He can be bought as in the case of O.J. Simpson or forced by threats in any direction the defendant and his friends want.
Astorga should not be allowed to serve his life plus 13 years in a New Mexico prison. He should be exchanged with another prisoner like him in another state. Take him as far away as possible from his Bros and the system he has learned so well to manipulate.