Emporia man ordered to stand trial on rape charge for 2022 incident in Lawrence

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

The Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center is pictured in March of 2022. The center houses the Douglas County District Court and other county services.

An Emporia man was bound over for trial Wednesday in Douglas County District Court on a rape charge after a woman testified that the man violated her twice in one evening after a party.

The man, Romeo Devontay Martinez, 22, faces one felony count of rape, according to charging documents. The incident is alleged to have occurred on Dec. 5, 2022, and involved a then-21-year-old woman.

The woman testified that she had known Martinez for a couple of years before the incident and that at times the two had been close but were never physically or romantically involved. She said that she had a party at her Lawrence apartment with about a dozen people, including Martinez, and when everyone was leaving around 11:30 p.m. she asked Martinez to stay.

“I needed a friend,” the woman said. “I was going through some stuff.”

She testified that she had around four or five drinks that night and was “buzzed” but not drunk. Martinez agreed to stay, and the two went into the woman’s bedroom, started a movie and lay down to go to bed. She said Martinez took his shirt off and lay next to her.

“I had never been that close to him before,” she said.

After a few minutes, Martinez began to touch the woman and got on top of her, she said.

“I couldn’t speak. I was nervous and scared,” the woman testified.

She said Martinez’s touch began to hurt and she told him to stop, though she may have been speaking in a soft voice because she was “buzzed” but soon sobered up. Eventually she raised her voice enough that Martinez could hear her asking him to stop. She said Martinez stopped briefly, but then violated her again.

She said the acts took about 15 minutes total and she repeatedly told Martinez to “please stop” and that she “didn’t want it,” but Martinez persisted until she pushed him off of her, telling him loudly to stop.

She said Martinez got out of the bed, gathered his clothes and said something like “it’s happening again” before leaving.

The woman said she lay in bed crying as he left, then called her aunt, who advised her to call the police, which she did.

She said she spoke to an officer who asked her to go to the hospital for a sexual assault exam. The woman said she told the officer that she didn’t want to do that. Martinez’s attorney, Branden Smith, asked the woman why she didn’t go for the exam.

“I found it too traumatizing, and I didn’t want to be touched at all,” the woman testified.

The woman and Martinez started exchanging messages on Facebook Messenger the next day, she said.

The woman texted: “I really need an explanation why you did what you did,” and when Martinez didn’t immediately respond, she texted “say something bro.”

Smith had the woman read through additional messages. In one text, Martinez defends himself by saying that the two didn’t actually have sex.

Smith had the woman read one message that she sent to Martinez that said: “I did press charges. The only thing you have against me is that I was drunk and that I took my pants off under the covers.”

The woman denied in court that she took her own pants off, despite what the text message said. She said she took screenshots of the messages and gave them to police before blocking Martinez.

After the woman’s testimony, Senior Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal told the court that in another text message Martinez asked the woman not to press charges and messaged, “I should never have pushed myself on you, but I did.”

After the evidence was presented, Judge Stacey Donovan determined that probable cause existed to order Martinez to stand trial.

Smith then asked the court to consider reducing Martinez’s bond and said that Martinez would live with his mother in Emporia, where he would try to attend school. Smith asked the court to lower Martinez’s bond from $50,000 to $25,000, which would be low enough for Martinez’s mother to raise the money to get him out.

Leal objected to the reduced bond and said that in another message Martinez sent to the woman Martinez said, “Honestly, I can’t promise that it won’t happen again to someone else.”

Leal said that message made it clear that Martinez is a danger to the public. Smith countered, saying that Martinez was drunk when he sent that message and that if released on bond, one of the conditions of that bond would be to not use drugs or alcohol.

Donovan denied the bond reduction and said that Smith did not provide the court enough information as to what Martinez’s living conditions would be if he were released. She then scheduled a bond modification hearing on Sept. 8 for Smith to present additional evidence to support the lower bond for Martinez and to set a trial date in 2024.

Court records indicate that Martinez was convicted in July of 2022 of a low-level felony criminal threat in Lyon County, and was sentenced to six months in prison, which was suspended to 12 months of probation, in accordance with Kansas sentencing guidelines.

The Journal-World has requested Martinez’s booking photo from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.