Tyron Martinez recaptured: Accused of killing woman he thought poisoned his uncle's cocaine

Tyron Martinez is back in custody after slipping off his handcuffs and overpowering a deputy following a pre-trial conference in Conejos County in southern Colorado. Which means he'll have to face a murder charge in the death of Norma Salazar -- a crime whose elements include rat poison, cocaine, drunkenness and first shots foiled by the gun's safety device.

According to accounts from a January preliminary hearing covered by the Alamosa News, Martinez started drinking about 4 p.m. last August 5 -- usually a bad sign according to his wife, who told investigators that he doesn't drink often, but when he does, he can do so for several days straight.

After his wife left for work, he was left at home with her daughter, Veronica, and Rodney Northrip, then eighteen. Northrip told investigators Martinez began talking about how much he missed his uncle, David Espinoza, who'd died six months earlier. How? Martinez reportedly blamed a woman named Norma Salazar, who he suspected of putting rat poison in his uncle's cocaine.

As the evening wore on, Martinez allegedly told Northrip he wanted to scare Salazar as payback for what she'd done to his uncle. After pulling on a pair of black latex gloves and a hoodie -- and grabbing a gun and three full clips of ammunition -- he asked Northrip to drive him to Salazar's home, in the community of La Jara.

Northrip, who told cops he wasn't wild about this idea but he did it anyway, says he dropped off Martinez, then watched what happened next through an open window of Salazar's apartment. He claims Martinez pointed his gun at Salazar and pulled the trigger -- to no effect, since the safety was on. At that point, she turned, and when she saw him, she said, "Please don't." By this time, however, Martinez had apparently figured out the safety. He fired three times, killing her.

Northrip admits to having helped Martinez search unsuccessfully for shell casings later discovered by cops. An affidavit maintains that Martinez subsequently burned his clothes and shoes.

After Northrip, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and accessory charges, agreed to testify against Martinez, authorities decided it might not be the best idea to have the two of them in the same jail. Hence, Northrip was installed at Conejos County Jail, while Martinez wound up at a detention facility in Alamosa. But the latter was transported to the Conejos District Courthouse last Thursday for a pre-trial conference that determined, among other things, that Martinez would be allowed to wear street clothes at his trial.

Will that ruling be adjusted because of what happened next? Could be -- since Martinez allegedly got free from his cuffs and attacked a deputy driving him back to Alamosa. He then took the vehicle, a 2005 Chevy Impala sans a cage between the front and back seat, and hit the road -- but he didn't get far. After being on the loose for two hours or so, he was recaptured in Gunnison County.

Martinez is next due in court on August 4 -- when he'll no doubt be watched very closely. Take a larger look at his booking photo below.

More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Victoria Barry charged in wrong-way crash that killed Lilly Duncan, leaving daughter an orphan."
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts