But there was no doubt that Martinez-Rubio was dealing large quantities of drugs from his Sioux City home at the time of the fatal shooting and had six firearms in his home.
"Whether he pulled the trigger or not, he certainly set in motion the chain of events," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Lammers said Friday before Martinez-Liborio was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Sioux City to 25 years in prison.
Martinez-Rubio, 63, pleaded guilty in June to single counts of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Martinez-Rubio was arrested Jan. 11, 2018, hours after Cheron, 26, of Sioux City, arrived at a hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest and died. Armed with a shotgun, Cheron was attempting to break into the home at 1609 Jones St. to rob Martinez-Rubio, Lammers said at Friday's sentencing hearing.
Investigators found packaged meth and marijuana, digital scales and approximately $130,000 in cash inside the home. They also found six handguns. Two of them had been stolen, one of them among 79 guns stolen in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2007.
Because of two past convictions for selling drugs, Martinez-Rubio was termed a career offender, which enhanced his prison sentence. Prior to his initial 1998 arrest, he had lawful permanent resident status. He was deported to Mexico after serving five years in prison, then deported again after a 2007 conviction in which he served three years in prison.
"There are individuals who simply don't learn from their mistakes. That undoubtedly happened in this case," Chief U.S. District Judge Leonard Strand said before announcing the prison sentence.
There is no parole in the federal prison system, and, given his age, it's possible Martinez-Rubio could spend the rest of his life in prison. If he completes his sentence, he would again be subject to deportation.
As part of a plea agreement, charges of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and felon in possession of a firearm were dismissed.
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