Lawrence man charged with murder in New Year’s Day crash will enter mediation to resolve case

photo by: Chris Conde/ Journal World

The Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center is pictured in September 2018.

A Lawrence man charged with murder in an automobile crash on New Year’s Day waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Tuesday and plans to enter criminal mediation.

Adrian Joel Martinez, 38, is charged with one felony count of second-degree murder, or, in the alternative, felony involuntary manslaughter and two counts of felony aggravated battery. He is alleged to have been driving under the influence when he was involved in a crash that killed James Henderson Jr., 20, and seriously injured two other people, according to charging documents.

Martinez appeared in person with his defense attorney, Branden Smith, who said that Martinez would be engaging in criminal mediation this month and asked Judge Amy Hanley to schedule a status update in 30 to 45 days.

Deputy District Attorney Joshua Seiden said that the state agreed to the mediation process and that the timeline for the status update was reasonable.

Martinez was arrested on March 7 and was released on a $50,000 bond on March 14, according to court records. He is next scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 29.

As previously reported by the Journal-World, around 12:15 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2022, police officers responded to the head-on collision in the 2500 block of West Sixth Street, near Sixth and Crestline Drive. Lt. David Ernst with the Lawrence Police Department said preliminary information about the accident suggested that it happened when a westbound vehicle crossed the center line and collided with an eastbound vehicle.

Henderson grew up in Tonganoxie but lived in Lawrence at the time of his death. His grandmother, calling him JJ, described him to the Journal-World a few days after his death as a “happy-go-lucky” young man who loved video games and technology.

“He made everyone around him happy,” she said. “He was just one of the guys who brought light into everybody’s world.”

photo by: Submitted

James Henderson Jr.

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