The trial of an alleged male prostitute accused of strangling a
Burbank man and then setting fire to his apartment more than two
years ago could begin as early as Tuesday.
Juan Carlos Martinez, a 20-year-old transient, is accused in the
Sept. 5, 2001, slaying of 62-year-old Charles Rivas of Burbank. Rivas
was found dead in the bathroom of his studio apartment in the 1000
block of North Glenoaks Boulevard, police said.
Martinez was brought to the apartment by Rivas, and the two men
argued over money, sex and an insult about Martinez’s mother before
Martinez followed Rivas into the bathroom and strangled him, police
said. Autopsy results showed Rivas died of blunt force trauma to the
At the preliminary hearing, Deputy Dist. Atty. Natalie Adomian
said Martinez killed Rivas because he wasn’t paid for a sex act.
Martinez reportedly spent the night in the apartment before
setting fire to a couch in an attempt to hide the crime. Witnesses
reported seeing a man who looked like Martinez leave the next morning
in Rivas’ car with two backpacks full of clothes and other items,
police said. He was arrested the next day walking near Broadway and
5th Street in Los Angeles, allegedly wearing Rivas’ clothes.
Because the murder was allegedly committed in part to hide a
robbery, Martinez could have faced the death penalty. But a special
circumstance committee ruled that he will face a maximum penalty of
life in prison if convicted.
The trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Pasadena Superior
Court, but Adomian said it could be delayed by motions for up to five
Adomian said the case against Martinez is strong, but declined to
discuss details so close to the start of the trial. Attorneys
representing Martinez could not be reached for comment.