Victoria Building mugs

The outside of the Victoria County Courthouse.

A key eyewitness in a 2018 double homicide case fielded questions from the defense during Wednesday's proceedings, stating she was "very certain" the defendant was the man who pulled the trigger.

Kimberly Hoff, 31, of Yoakum, testified that she was in an adjacent room from where the shooting took place and that Jesus Martinez, 32, of Victoria, who is facing two counts of capital murder, was the triggerman. She said she was certain even though she was admittedly high from using meth earlier in the day and was in shock from the incident.

The defense argued that there is reasonable doubt as to the shooter’s identity.

Nearly two and a half years after the deaths, jurors are hearing about the events leading up to the September evening when two Victoria residents, Michelle Johnson, 31, and Dward Kitchens, 34, were found dead inside a dilapidated home on North Jacker Street in Victoria.

Martinez’s attorney Merri Nichols's questioned Hoff about her state of mind after the shooting, focusing on inconsistencies between her testimony on Tuesday under state questioning and her statements to police in 2018.

Nichols explored Hoff's familiarity with guns after she testified she is "afraid of guns," asking about her experiencing shooting firearms and a tattoo on her leg resembling the logo of Browning, a firearms manufacturer. Hoff testified that she was more familiar with rifles, not handguns like the one she alleged Martinez used in the shooting.  She said she kept the firearm on her because she was fearful of Martinez, who, she said, had been stalking her in the days before the shooting.

The state and the defense also questioned a Victoria police officer who first made contact with Hoff after the shooting at a convenience store and a former Victoria police detective, who searched the home where Hoff left the gun's holster and her boots police later discovered that had blood on the soles. 

Hoff was originally charged with capital murder, but a grand jury declined to indict her on those charges. Instead, Hoff was charged on two counts of tampering with physical evidence for leaving a bag of ammunition and the holster and boots at two locations after the shooting. Those charges remain pending. Prosecutors did not make a deal with her to modify or lessen those charges in exchange for her testimony.

Proceedings will continue at 1:30 p.m. with the questioning of other officers involved in the investigation and experts who perform ballistics examination of the gun prosecutors accuse Martinez of using to shoot Johnson and Kitchens.

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Chase covers breaking news, crime and courts for the Advocate. He graduated from Texas State University with a bachelor's in mass communication and journalism. He can be reached at 361-574-1286, or at @chasedrogers on Twitter.

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Breaking News & Public Safety Reporter

"I am a North Texas native with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and journalism from Texas State University. I am privileged to work with the Advocate staff and contribute to their tireless effort to inform the communities of the Crossroads."

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