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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Woman gets 5 years for shooting man in back of head in Spokane; prosecutor says many unanswered questions surround shooting

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 25, 2022

Melissa Martin (right) appears alongside Spokane County public defender Betty Craipo during a first appearance in Spokane Superior Court in front of Judge Jeffrey Smith via video feed from the Airway Heights Correctional Center on Feb. 24, 2020.   (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
Melissa Martin (right) appears alongside Spokane County public defender Betty Craipo during a first appearance in Spokane Superior Court in front of Judge Jeffrey Smith via video feed from the Airway Heights Correctional Center on Feb. 24, 2020.  (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)

A 38-year-old woman who pleaded guilty last month to killing her roommate’s boyfriend, Juan Campos, two years ago in northeast Spokane will spend more than five years in prison.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Rachelle Anderson sentenced Melissa Lee Ann Martin Friday according to a plea agreement reached between the prosecution and defense.

That agreement called for 63 months in prison for second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Campos.

Martin pleaded guilty Jan. 28. She will serve 18 months of community custody when she is released from prison.

On Feb. 20, 2020, Spokane police were dispatched to 1644 E. Rockwell Ave. after receiving a call describing suspicious circumstances. The tipster was a friend of Martin who she called to help her dispose of the victim’s body, according to court documents.

Officers found Campos’ body in a basement freezer. He had been shot in the back of the head, the documents said.

Martin told police that she and Campos were doing drugs and that Martin passed out and woke up to Campos raping her.

Later that afternoon, Martin told police she went to Campos’ room to get heroin and he groped her. When Campos turned to weigh the drugs, Martin told police she shot him in the back of the head.

Martin told officers she then hid the body in the freezer with the help of a man.

Family members of Campos and Martin filled the courtroom gallery during Friday’s sentencing. Some of Campos’ family members wore black sweatshirts that said “In loving memory of our brother Juan P. Campos.” A photo of Campos and Campos’ dates of birth and death were shown on the front of the sweatshirts. He was 31.

Campos’ family members asked Anderson to impose a harsher sentence. Martin’s family apologized to the Campos family, expressed deep remorse they said Martin had and asked that she be given another chance.

“We’re not going to get him back,” said Roxanne Cano, Campos’ sister.

Ciera Campos, another sister of Juan Campos, said her brother had three daughters.

“You took their dad away from them,” she said.

Cano said that five years in prison was “garbage” and a “joke.” She said she wanted a trial instead of a plea deal.

Stephen Garvin, Spokane County deputy prosecutor, said it was difficult to decipher what happened the day of the killing and that he had substantial concerns about a jury trial based on the numerous questions that were never answered.

Martin’s mother and father said Martin is extremely remorseful for killing Campos. Scott Stotts, Martin’s father, said he often hears his daughter crying in her room.

“I know my daughter’s a good person,” said Stotts, adding that she deserves a second chance.

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