Sal Martinez


My son, Sal Martinez, 29, a student at the University of New Mexico and attending TVI, was shot to death at a bachelor party held in Albuquerque on May 28, 1993. Salís admitted killer has not been charged with Salís death, reportedly because of the killerís drug links to prominent New Mexico personalities.

Sal didnít arrive at the party until about 11:45 p.m., because he had to work late. He was shot almost immediately upon his arrival.

The party had gotten out of hand long before Sal got there. According to the party guests, a stripper who had been hired to put on a show had been doing things the host, Damon Valasquez, didnít approve of, like handcuffing the groom and encouraging the guests to touch her. Valasquez fired her, and her boyfriend/bodyguard, Darryl Fowler, got mad because the stripper had been hired to do three shows and would now get paid for only one of them. Fowler pulled out a gun and started firing it wildly into the air, and Sal, who had just gotten there and had nothing to do with the confrontation, took a bullet in the chest.

Sal was still alive when police officers got there. The cops refused to give him CPR, because they had forgotten to bring the protective plastic mouthpieces they like to use when they do mouth-to-mouth recessitation. Sal died right there in front of them, and they didnít make any attempt to save him, because theyíd forgotten their pieces of plastic.

The people at the party tried to keep Fowler from running, but he fought them off and got away. He and the stripper ran out of the house, jumped into Fowlerís El Camino, and took off. They went into hiding, and allegedly the cops couldnít find them. The police told reporters they didnít even know their names. How could they not know their names when all they had to do was ask Damon Valasquez?

Fowler hired an attorney who assured him that if he gave himself up nothing would happen to him. And he was right. Fowler turned himself in and told the police he was innocent and didnít have any idea where the gun was. He didnít spend a minute in jail. APD homicide detective Damon Fay said Fowler wouldnít be charged because it was self-defense. How could it be self-defense when my son wasnít carrying a weapon and neither was anybody else at the party except Fowler?

Darryl Fowler is said to have a lot of close friends in the police department. Reportedly Fowler had a meth lab in his home, (there was stuff in the papers about it when it exploded), and weíve been told by people who know him that he also imports drugs from out of the country and acts as a drug supplier for some high profile people in Albuquerque. One of those people, who has been identified to us by name, is a VIP in law enforcement who was in a position to control the handling of Salís case.

A decision was made not to prosecute.

When it became clear that Fowler was going to get off without even a slap on the wrist, my husband and I sued him and Damon Valasquez for wrongful death. We didnít really want to charge Valasquez, but our lawyer said we had to, because Valesquez threw the party and he had insurance. Darryl Fowler was the owner of a sporting goods store, but when he found out there was going to be a lawsuit he got rid of that store -- either sold it or gave it away Ė so he didnít own it anymore. Our lawyer knew he couldnít get money out of Fowler, so he wanted to go for Valasquez.

During the hearing, Fowler admitted that he did shoot Sal. He said, "Well, I knew I must have shot somebody, but I didnít know I killed him, and I donít know where the gun is."

The mediator told all of us, "Iíve known Darryl for years. He used to be a decent person but he started messing with drugs and messed up." Like that was an excuse for killing my son!

In November, 1999, we were awarded a settlement, but the district attorney dismissed the charges against Fowler. He wouldnít tell us why; in fact, he refused to talk to us at all. We donít understand how Fowler can admit on record that he shot and killed an unarmed person and not get charged with anything.

I know that if Darryl Fowler had been a regular person and not a drug supplier for somebody important, he would have gone to prison. If my son, Sal, had shot and killed Darryl Fowler, youíd better believe heíd be on death row!

Jane Phelps

Update, July 2004: 

Sal's family has long believed that Sal's admitted killer was not charged with his murder because the killer was a drug supplier for "influential people in New Mexico."

It now appears their suspicions might be justified.In May 2004, Chief Judge John Brennan of Albuquerque was arrested on narcotics charges.That opened a can of worms that may affect a number of cases on this web site.

In June 2004, KRQE TV aired information from a confidential narcotics report about drug activities involving, not only Judge Brennan, but numerous other prominent NM judges, attorneys and members of the state legislature dating back many years."It draws on a variety of sources and reads like a Who's Who of the New Mexico drug underworld," the reporter said."Judges, lawyers, politicians, sports celebrities and prominent businessmen appear in the report right along side the State's narcotics kingpins."David Iglesias, US Attorney for New Mexico, called the detailed document about drug smuggling and money laundering in New Mexico "a page-turner I couldn't put down."

Like the families who believe their loved ones were killed because they "knew too much," (Kaitlyn Arquette, Ramona Duran, Peter Klunck, Stephen Haar,etc.), Sal's family is eager to learn the identities of the VIP drug traders whose names are contained in that report.But those names cannot be released, because the VIPs have not been arrested.