Man sentenced to 40 years for murder of Rockwall County resident

From the Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney’s Office

(ROCKWALL,TX – May 26, 2015) On Friday, May 22, 2015, Rojelio Martinez, 19, pled guilty to the offense of Murder and was sentenced by 382nd Judicial District Court Judge Brett Hall to forty (40) years in the penitentiary.

Martinez, a resident of Lancaster, was charged with killing Rockwall County resident John Edward Spangler, 27, in the parking lot of a Rowlett 7-Eleven convenience store located at 8509 Lakeview Parkway during the early morning hours of December 17, 2014.

Police said that Martinez and Spangler were in a vehicle negotiating a drug transaction when the incident took place.  “At some point, we believe that the deceased realized that Martinez had brought fake drugs or glass to the transaction,” said Rockwall County District Attorney Kenda Culpepper, who was the lead prosecutor on the case.  An argument ensued, and Martinez produced a Lorcin .380 semi-automatic handgun and shot Spangler in the torso.  Witnesses saw Spangler’s body fall out of the car into the parking lot and called the police.  The defendant’s vehicle fled the location, but Rowlett police officers located it and the defendant within minutes after being dispatched.

Spangler, the father of three children, later died of his injuries.  Martinez was charged with Capital Murder; that charge was subsequently reduced to Murder.

“We spent a lot of time speaking with Mr. Spangler’s family and looking at the totality of the evidence with law enforcement,” said Culpepper.  “The Rowlett Police Department did an excellent job of investigating this case.  We are very pleased with the sentence rendered and glad that the family received the justice they felt was due for the death of their loved one.”

“This is a cautionary tale, however,” said Culpepper.  “It should serve as a reminder that a drug transaction can be a deadly one.  Those buying drugs should remember that dealers can be desperate and evil people.  When you get involved in this trade, you can end up paying with your life.”