A Miami-Dade Police officer’s suspicions during a Sunday night patrol resulted in confessions to two high-profile Kendall murders committed in late 2010, according to Miami-Dade Police Department records.
Officer Romelio Martinez of Hammocks District earned a citation as Officer of the Month in February for his role in the arrest of 21-year-old Matthew Guzman that led to separate murder charges lodged as the result of statements to MDPD homicide detectives on Jan. 3.
Both victims, Paul S. Barrow, 46, owner of the Devonaire Service and Tire Center, 12253 SW 112 Street, and Harry Ray, 64, 12301 SW 110 S. Canal Street Rd., were shot and killed in separate incidents: Ray, at his home on Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. and Barrow at his garage, shortly after 8 a.m. on Dec. 16.
Devonaire residents alarmed over two neighborhood killing in four weeks had asked Kendall and Hammocks District police for stepped-up patrols when no witnesses or incriminating evidence turned up in immediate post-shooting investigations.
Two weeks after the Barrow shooting, Officer Martinez on “midnight patrol” spotted Guzman pushing a Publix shopping cart in the area of SW 120th Street and 121st Avenue at 10:20 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 2.
Arousing suspicion when he found the cart loaded with 12 bags of potting soil, Martinez began detailed questioning that led to the youth’s admission they had been stolen from the Parmar Nursery, 13190 SW 117 Ave., for “agricultural experiments.”
Martinez’s subsequent search of Guzman’s backpack turned up a 9mm Bryco handgun that later proved the weapon used in the Barrow killing.
Arrested Jan. 2 on armed burglary, theft and concealed weapon charges, and quizzed by MDPD detectives Jan. 3, Guzman stated he had used the weapon to kill Barrows, according to the police report. After a laboratory analysis later confirmed the gun also had been used in the Ray shooting, he was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Guzman currently is being held in Dade County Jail pending court hearing of the original arresting citations and two first degree murder charges, according to Det. Javier Baez of MDPD Media Relations Division.
”Officer Martinez’s actions resulted in the arrest of a killer who was planning to murder another unsuspecting victim,” according to Maj. Alexander D. Casas, commander of Hammocks District. “He has made our streets safer for our citizens.”
Unable to appear at the Citizens Advisory Committee meeting for a formal presentation, Martinez on Feb. 23 was reported “on patrol.”