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Idaho Falls woman sent to prison for the horrific torture of another woman

Crime Watch

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story contains graphic depictions of physical torture. User discretion is advised.

IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho Falls woman will spend five to 20 years in prison for torturing another woman.

Sasha Dee Martinez, 34, sobbed as District Judge Bruce Pickett announced the sentence Wednesday. Martinez had previously pleaded guilty to felony aggravated battery and felony possession of methamphetamine as part of a plea agreement with Bonneville County prosecutors. In exchange, prosecutors dismissed a felony first-degree kidnapping charge and a misdemeanor charge of battery.

Martinez is one of four co-defendants in a case Bonneville County Deputy Prosecutor Adam Garvin called one of the “most egregious” he has seen.

Idaho Falls police reports show that on June 22, 2020, officers were called to Canal Street after a woman asked a stranger to call 911, saying she had been held captive and tortured at a house.

Prosecutors say Jorge Luis Balderas, 27, and Laura Zamudio, 29, Austin Alverado, 24 were all part of the crimes with Martinez.

The victim told detectives she met Balderas online in January and moved in with him in Burley. At the time, Zamudio, one of Balderas’ ex-girlfriends, also lived with Balderas and the victim. The three moved to Idaho Falls in March into the home of Martinez, she said. Balderas and the victim then broke up, and he began dating Martinez.

Although court documents do not indicate what provoked the torture and the abuse, investigators believe the victim was beaten, tied to a chair, burned with propane torches and even set on fire with lighter fluid.

At one point, Martinez cut off the woman’s hair while she was tied to the chair with a rope and ratchet straps. Then to “make sure she remembered her,” Martinez used a knife to carve an “N” into the woman’s face, which stood for “Nana” — Martinez’s nickname.

RELATED | Idaho Falls woman held captive and tortured for days, police say

“Jorge controlled the house and threatened people,” Martinez’s public defender Jason Gustaves said at the sentencing. “She cut an ‘N’ into the victim at Jorge’s direction.”

At the sentencing, the defense attorney played a portion of a March jail call between Balderas and Martinez. Balderas allegedly directed her to have attacks upon other inmates at the Bonneville County Jail. Balderas also says in the call that “for her sake,” Martinez should withdraw her statement made to police about the incident.

“He has no fear in threatening in what he knows is a recorded call,” Gustaves said. He elaborated that it proves Martinez fears Balderas since he has connections to those inside the prison system.

RELATED | Man charged in kidnapping and torture case now faces witness intimidation charge

Gustaves asked Pickett to place Martinez on a rider program with an underlying one-to-eight-year prison sentence.

During the prosecution’s argument, Garvin said although defense attorneys are pointing Balderas as “the real bad guy,” it was Martinez “that controlled and dominated the victim.” He said Martinez cutting off the victim’s hair “took every ounce of dignity” the victim had. Martinez then took it a step further by carving the permanent reminder of who Balderas was in a relationship with.

Garvin said Martinez had opportunities to stop the torture, including the ability to contact her parole officer or local law enforcement. He asked Pickett to sentence Martinez between nine and 12 years in prison.

“I know I messed up on so many levels and in so many ways,” Martinez said in tears during a statement made before receiving her sentence. “I messed up and let things get out of control.”

Sasha Dee Martinez Sentencing
Sasha Dee Martinez at her sentencing Wednesday morning. | Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com

Martinez then went on to call Balderas “a monster in disguise” and said she feared him. She also apologized to the victim, who was not in the courtroom.

“This is something that should never have happened … You chose to take a knife and carve somebody’s face up,” Pickett said.

The judge reviewed Martinez’s extensive criminal history, which began at the age of 11 with a battery arrest. She was placed on a rider in 2011 after being the getaway driver for a robbery before being placed right into prison. Her time behind bars showed continuous disciplinary issues, and she remains on parole for the robbery until 2026.

“When you look at your history, it appears you haven’t learned anything,” Pickett said.

In addition to the time in prison, Pickett ordered Martinez to pay a total of $1,000 in fines and potentially ongoing restitution to the victim.

Although Balderas, Zamudio and Alverado are accused of crimes connected to the alleged kidnapping and torture of the woman, it does not necessarily mean they committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. All three have pleaded not guilty and still have not faced a jury.

EastIdahoNews.com will continue to provide updates when they become available.

RELATED | Fourth person arrested in connection to kidnapping, torture of woman

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