Machete bandits sentenced to two-year terms in crime spree

Two men who went on a machete-wielding robbery spree and attack on a Daly City good Samaritan will spend two years in prison after accepting a plea deal Monday.

Hayward resident Milton Martinez, 27, and Oakland resident Elber Rivera, 21, accepted the deal on the day their trial was to begin for the New Year’s Day crime spree.

Martinez, who was facing seven years behind bars, pleaded no contest to a single count of robbery. In exchange, prosecutors dropped two additional counts of robbery and an attempted robbery charge.

Rivera, who had faced five years in prison, pleaded no contest to felony assault. Prosecutors dropped the robbery charge he faced.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Rivera was part of a group of men who mugged at least four people at around 3 a.m. near the Westlake Shopping Center, while Martinez was the group’s driver. When a 40-year-old man witnessed one of the muggings and tried to intervene, Rivera and others threw him to the ground, beat and kicked him before stealing his wallet, according to prosecutors. The good Samaritan has since recovered.

Both men were arrested after one of the victims was able to copy down Martinez’s license plate. The other alleged attackers have never been apprehended.

Wagstaffe said the victims, some of whom were returning from New Year’s Eve revelry, did nothing to provoke the crimes and prosecutors suspect Martinez and Rivera were in search of vulnerable people.

“It can’t be described as anything but an attack by a pack of animals,” Wagstaffe said. Prosecutors were insistent the men receive prison time as opposed to simply probation in the plea deal, he added.

Rivera has been in the San Mateo County jail since his arrest, while Martinez had been free on $150,000 bail.

Wagstaffe said prosecutors were unable to determine if the men drove from the East Bay with the intention to rob San Mateo County residents or if they had celebrated New Year’s Eve in the area.

“We don’t know whether they were here to party or to prey,” hesaid.

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

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