Accused home invasion driver avoids rearrest

A 35-year-old Norwich woman accused of serving as the getaway driver during an Aug. 16 home invasion/robbery on Franklin Street was nearly rearrested today when she failed to show up on time for her first appearance in the court where major crimes are heard.

Luz Martinez, whose last known address is 469 Boswell Ave., Norwich, had been released on a $50,000 non-surety bond after she was arraigned last month on charges of accessory to home invasion, accessory to first-degree robbery, third-degree larceny and intimidation of a witness. A non-surety bond requires only the signature of the defendant - not cash or other collateral - to guarantee her next court appearance. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Martinez had returned a stolen watch to the victims and helped police identify James “Bliss” Alston as a suspect.

Martinez was not in the courtroom when New London Superior Court Judge Susan B. Handy called the case this morning. The judge ordered Martinez rearrested and held in lieu of $50,000 cash or surety. Martinez arrived before lunch, and the judge vacated the re-arrest order. Handy appointed attorney Bruce A. McIntyre to represent Martinez and continued the case.

Norwich police said James E. Alston, 31, of 96 River Ave. and John R. Factura, 23, of 187 Talman St entered an apartment above the Brazil Mart at 204 Franklin St. on Aug. 16 and stole $9,470 in cash, jewelry and an iPhone from a couple who recently had sold the grocery store.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, one of the victims told police four days later that she had been contacted by a woman who claimed to know the identity of one of the robbers. Detective Christopher Conley spoke with Martinez, who identified Alston as one of the suspects. The next day, another of the victims called police to report that Martinez had returned a watch that was stolen during the home invasion. He said Martinez told him she had stole it from a vehicle belonging to “Bliss.”

Martinez eventually admitted she took part in the crime after Alston came to her apartment and asked for assistance, according to the affidavit. She said she needed money. She said she drove the men to the scene and waited as they carried out the robbery. Martinez said she decided to return the watch and provide police with information after she learned that the female victim was pregnant.


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