Read Christina’s first testimony here.
When I signed the state’s final plea offer of 15 years in the State of New Mexico Women’s Correctional Facility, it was as if my life at that moment was in slow motion. My attorney, along with a court deputy, led me to a room furnished only with a long mahogany table and six chairs. In the middle of the table was a stack of legal papers and a shiny silver ink pen – as if signing my life away with a fancy writing utensil would make me feel better about this outcome! I couldn’t help but notice a framed 8×10 picture on the wall. There she was, standing tall and proud… ribboned in a gold plated frame… Lady Justice… blindfolded.My court attire, an extra large red jumpsuit… standard county issue clothing, a pair of socks and shower sandals, given to me ten months ago when I was booked in jail, charged with armed robbery. Accessorizing my fatigues were iron leg shackles and matching handcuffs… which clanked together with each and every move I made.
I had already resolved within myself that I was going to spend the remainder of most of my life in prison. I couldn’t deny that I had committed a crime, and I was beyond making excuses as to why I’d done what I had done. At the end of the day, the truth remained. I was guilty.
I could feel my hot tears falling down my face. My lawyer was speaking the usual legal “mumbo-jumbo”, and I could see that his lips were moving, but my ears registered no sound at all. All that I could feel indefinitely was a broken heart. My mind kept focused on God’s truth: “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 He kept me from falling apart. He held me through every single step and moment. “I will guide you…” “I will advise you…” “I will watch over you along the best pathway for your life…” “I will guide you…” “I will guide you…” My mind kept fixed on Jesus. My Lord is not a liar. My Father in Heaven, He knows exactly what He is doing and regardless of the unfortunate circumstances that my own destructive lifestyle had landed me in, I trusted God.
The court deputy placed a fingerprint pad in front of me. With my handcuffed bracelets on, my thumb was rolled from side to side, coating my skin with the black ink, and pressed down next to my signature… agreeing that I was indeed guilty and that I would spend the next 15 years of my life in prison.
“The state calls Christina Martinez, case number CO-2013-14 for sentencing, your honor.” The state prosecutor was a “no mercy” kind of girl, who had wanted to lock me up and throw away the key. She labeled me a “career criminal”, a “habitual offender” who is never, ever going to change! I suppose it is not the prosecutor’s job to see a positive change in me. Her only task was to nail me. And as she read out loud the details of my case, I could see why she would want to nail me.
The judge never turned his eyes away from me. And I gave him the respect of meeting his debonair stare. My tears never halted. They fell uncontrollably without pause. He asked me, in an assertive tone, “Do you have anything to say, Ms. Martinez?” I began to speak by saying I had been a drug addict since I was 11 years old. However, he wasn’t listening for an excuse or even a reason. He interrupted me and sitting straight up, eyes fixed on mine, his jet black robe falling perfectly on him, this well known and well regarded judge asked me one question: “What makes you any different than every other addict I see in my courtroom day in and day out?” I could only respond with three words. Three words. One truth. “I am saved.” He never flinched. There was no rolling of the eyes as if to shrug off my statement. No smile. No frown. Not even a deep, heavy sigh. The Judge sat before me, body language of a strong, confident man. His dark brown eyes piercing into my own, as if to read me. A cool quietness remained between myself and my sentencing judge. This man, elected to uphold the laws of this state, looked at me intensely… as if searching for something. Maybe he was looking for deceit. Maybe he was seeking an answer that only the eyes could tell?
My mother has always said to me that “the eyes are the mirrors to our soul… the eyes can’t lie.”
God’s Word says that “He watches everything closely, examining everyone on earth” (Psalm 11:4)
“I will guide you… I will advise you… I will watch over you, along the best pathway for your life…” Psalm 32:8
These are the words that danced slowly on my heart… flowing through my entire being like honey.
“I am imposing the state’s recommendation… which is what you agreed and signed to, correct, Ms. Martinez?”
“Yes sir, I signed my plea”
“Good. Then it’s the judgment of this court that you are sentenced to 15 years in prison. I am suspending 9 years. I am giving you credit for the 10 months you have been in jail. And I am granting you 50% off the remainder of your time.”
My sentencing judge recited these words, while signing papers, and looking up at me between documents. It happened that quickly. It went from uninterrupted eye contact between an 8 time convicted felon and a well respected Judge, to a bold announcement of my prison sentence. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I was in such disbelief that I asked your Honor if he would please repeat himself. He stopped shuffling the numerous papers and documents in front of him, looked me square in my eyes and said firmly “I’m sentencing you to six years. With 50% off you will be out in roughly 3 years. I hope you utilize your talents for some good.”
The husky court deputy motioned me to exit the courtroom, and he led me to the back holding cell where I sat in silence… in complete awe at God’s mercy and grace in my life.
Lady Justice is a symbol that stands tall and proud outside of most major court houses. It is said that she is blindfolded because justice is blind. Justice is defined as “The principle of ideal or moral rightness. The upholding of what is right. Fairness. The administration of the law.” I suppose one would prefer to be blind when it comes to judging the people and their crimes. I imagine it would be excruciating to be in a position of pronouncing judgment.
I think about Jesus… it’s truly impossible to not believe that He has poured His mercy and grace over my life. I didn’t receive what is defined as justice when I was sentenced in court that day. If I had received justice, I would have been sentenced to serve every day of every year I had signed to. 15 years. I was given, rather, a sentence of mercy and grace. God allowed Himself to be seen in me, while my courtroom Judge studied me intently. I thank the Lord for His agape love… and I pray He will use me entirely, until my true judgment day is here.