DNA tied him to a decade-old fatal sword attack. He’ll spend 12 years in prison now
An Oregon man who stabbed a La Mesa man to death with a sword in 2006, and was linked to the killing years later through DNA, was sentenced to 12 years in prison Wednesday.
Zachary Aaron Bunney, 39, had agreed to the sentence when he pleaded guilty on Nov. 13 to voluntary manslaughter and use of a deadly weapon in the slaying of an acquaintance, Scott Martinez.
Martinez, 47, had been stabbed more than 30 times with the 3½-foot-long sword, according to La Mesa police and prosecutors.
In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Bunney.
San Diego County Superior Court Judge Robert Amador, who accepted the guilty plea last month, imposed the sentence.
La Mesa police arrested Bunney in January after using genetic genealogy to find a match to DNA found on bloody toilet paper, as well as blood in a bathroom sink and a window in Martinez’s apartment.
Authorities believe Bunney went to Martinez’s apartment out of jealousy over a woman he had been dating. The woman was reported to have told a friend she was cheating on Bunney by having an affair with Martinez.
The woman testified at Bunney’s June preliminary hearing that she babysat for Martinez’s daughter but had no other relationship with him.
A defense attorney argued at the preliminary hearing that the fact that Bunney’s blood was smeared around in Martinez’s apartment did not prove Bunney was the killer.
Two people entered Martinez’s apartment on June 17, 2006, and found him dead, with a bloody sword near him. La Mesa police investigators believe the killer slit open a bedroom window screen to slip out when the visitors walked in the door.
Police found blood-soaked toilet paper in the bathroom and theorized that the killer had cut himself and used the paper to stop his bleeding.
Bunney was not a suspect in the case until the DNA match was made 12 years later. He had lived in La Mesa at the time of the killing, but later moved to Hillsboro, Ore., where he was subsequently arrested.
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.