Judge OKs evidence in Ottawa break-in case

Martinez, Boaz lose bid to throw out surveillance

La Salle County Courthouse

Two men charged in an Ottawa home invasion during which shots were fired asked a judge to throw out evidence against them, and they lost. A jury will see and hear surveillance.

On Friday, Fernando Martinez and Michael Boaz appeared in La Salle County Circuit Court to argue motions to suppress. Both men were caught on a hot mic allegedly discussing a November break-in and wanted the recording thrown out. Martinez also disputed seizure of his clothes at Morris Hospital.

But a judge wouldn’t buy their arguments. Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. threw out the motions to suppress and put their cases back on the trial call.

Martinez, 21, of Ottawa will stand trial Aug. 19. He faces up to 50 years if convicted of home invasion, a Class X felony carrying six to 30 years in prison coupled with a firearm enhancement charge. Boaz, 21, of Ottawa will stand trial for a charge of home invasion Aug. 12.

Both men were developed as suspects after Ottawa police were summoned Nov. 2 to a residence in the 1100 block of Pine Street. There, a resident reported that masked men entered her bedroom, pointed a gun and demanded the combination to a safe, police said. The woman’s boyfriend arrived armed and exchanged gunfire with one of the intruders, police said.

Ottawa police soon found Martinez being treated for a gunshot wound at Morris Hospital. Martinez wouldn’t cooperate, but police seized his belongings. Police later seized surveillance footage in which Boaz and Martinez were heard discussing a break-in.

Martinez said he was entitled to privacy in his hospital room and that police needed a warrant before seizing anything. Both men said the surveillance cameras violated their privacy under the eavesdropping act.

Prosecutors countered that Martinez wasn’t in a private room but in a trauma room with clear-glass doors and people coming and going. In that setting, prosecutors said, Martinez had no reasonable expectation of privacy. The judge agreed.

As for the surveillance footage, Boaz and Martinez said they were in an enclosed porch and had no way of knowing the neighbor’s surveillance camera picked up their audio.

Prosecutors countered that not only was the surveillance camera in plain view, but the homeowner had asked her neighbor to train one of the cameras her way. The homeowner had testified that she told all visitors about the camera and that it was hot.

“I told every single person who came into that driveway they were on audio and video,” she testified at an earlier phase of the proceedings.

That, prosecutors said, undercut any argument by Martinez and Boaz that they were being “surreptitiously” recorded.

“The camera is hanging off the house a few feet away,” prosecutor Jeremiah Adams said. “It was open and obvious.”

Ryan again agreed. The judge noted, however, that Boaz and Martinez could raise the issue anew at their upcoming trials. Jurors could elect to downplay or disregard the footage.

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