New arson charges for Sterling man accused in double stabbing

Matthew R. Martinez

MORRISON – Three arson charges were added Tuesday to those already faced by a Sterling man accused of stabbing two people multiple times after setting a fire and forcing his way into the home.

In addition to home invasion and two counts of aggravated battery in the Dec. 10 incident, Matthew R. Martinez, 27, now also is charged with aggravated arson while knowing people are present, arson involving personal property and residential arson.

Both home invasion and aggravated arson are punishable by six to 30 years in prison, while residential arson carries four to 15 years. One of the battery charges and arson of personal property are punishable three to seven years, the other battery by two to five years, and the residential arson by one to four years.

He and the woman, whose wounds were not life-threatening, had an unspecified relationship, court records show.

The man was taken to a Rockford hospital and released the next day, Sterling Police Deputy Chief Pat Bartel said.

Investigators say Martinez stabbed the two with a knife after setting a fire in the attached garage and breaking into the home in the 800 block of West 19th Street.

Martinez pleaded not guilty to the original charges on Dec. 19; he must enter a plea on the new charges, likely at his next hearing on Jan. 24.

He is in Whiteside County jail on $500,00 bond, and has no previous felony history in the county.

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.