Son pleas in arson death of his father |

Son pleas in arson death of his father

LA JUNTA – A man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for setting his father on fire two years ago as the two argued over whether kerosene was flammable.Authorities said Thomas Martinez doused his father with kerosene, set him ablaze with a cigarette lighter and said: “You are going to die today – happy birthday, you are the candle.”Ernest Montoya, 58, died several weeks after the 2003 incident during his birthday party.Martinez, 38, had been charged with first-degree murder and other charges. Sentencing was set for March 8, where he faces at least 16 years in prison with the possibility of parole in five years.Martinez’s lawyer, Ray Torrez, described the fire as an impulsive act and said Monday that his client still feels he is not guilty.”It’s in his best legal interest to plead this way,” Torrez said.

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