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Transient sentenced for murder, arson

Jackson Bell

A male prostitute convicted of strangling a Burbank man and then

setting fire to the man’s apartment has been sentenced to 20 years to

life for his crimes.


Juan Carlos Martinez, a 20-year-old transient, was sentenced Oct.

22 in a Pasadena Superior Court for second-degree murder and arson of

an inhabited structure. He received five years in prison for the

arson conviction and 15 years to life for the slaying of 62-year-old


Charles Rivas. He will serve both terms consecutively, Burbank Police

Sgt. William Berry said.

Rivas was found dead Sept. 5, 2001, in the bathroom of his studio

apartment in the 100 block of North Glenoaks Boulevard. Deputy Dist.

Atty. Natalie Adomian said at the preliminary hearing that Martinez

killed Rivas because he wasn’t paid for a sex act. Adomian could not

be reached for comment Friday.

Police said Rivas brought Martinez to his home and the two men


began arguing over money, sex and an insult about Martinez’s mother

when Martinez strangled Rivas in the bathroom. Autopsy reports

revealed Rivas died of blunt force trauma to the neck.

According to police reports, Martinez slept overnight at the

apartment and set fire to a couch and bed the next morning in an

attempt to hide the crime. Witnesses saw a man resembling Martinez

leave the next morning in Rivas’ car with two backpacks full of

clothes, tools and other items taken from the apartment. He was


arrested the next day in Los Angeles, dressed in Rivas’ clothes.

Martinez, who was convicted Oct. 16 after waiving a jury trial,

has already begun serving his sentence and will not be eligible for

parole until after serving 15 years of his sentence, Berry said.