Archive for Tuesday, July 11, 2006

State asks father to remove shrine to murdered woman

July 11, 2006

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— The state has asked the father of a murder victim to remove a shrine he has erected at the site at the Cheyenne Bottoms where his daughter's body was found two years ago.

The state had given James Martinez permission to erect a plaque to his daughter Mikiala "Miki" Martinez, 19, on the Cheyenne Bottoms land in Barton County where her body was found. But he has added other adornments, including a footpath with stone steps, a bridge, solar lights and a power outlet.

Prosecutors said Sydney Gleason and his cousin, Damian Thompson, killed Miki Martinez because they thought she might tell police about a previous crime. Her boyfriend, Darrin Wornkey, was killed because he was with Martinez when the two men went to her house in Great Bend to confront her in February 2004.

In a letter to James Martinez, an attorney for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks said he needed to remove everything except the plaque before the end of the month or the department "will be faced with the difficult decision of removing the items for you."

"The Department is very sorry for your loss," the letter from attorney Amy Thornton says. "We were horrified at the time to learn that such an act occurred upon our property."

Nevertheless, the shrine exceeds the initial agreement for a memorial and "creates an unsafe and hazardous area" the letter says.

James Martinez said he knows he made a mistake by not asking the state's permission to enhance the memorial.

But he still hopes the state will reconsider its request, in part because the Legislature passed a law this session inspired by his daughter's death that requires criminals convicted of violent crimes to be listed on a state registry when they are released from prison.

Gleason was released on parole for an involuntary manslaughter conviction a month before the Wornkey-Martinez killings.

James Martinez wants to replace the temporary plaque bearing Miki's photo with a granite monument, with a light shining on it.

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