Drunk driver sentenced in killing of Gardena man

By Brett Callwood

The man responsible for the death of Gabriel Casiano Martinez of Gardena on July 3 2022 was sentenced to 16 years, four months to life in prison on the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 24 at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.

As reported by NBC Palm Springs, Austin George Jackson, 35, pleaded guilty “to one felony count each of murder and driving under the influence causing great bodily injury.”

Martinez died when Jackson rear-ended his vehicle at high speed while driving under the influence. According to the Palm Springs PD, Jackson had a previous out of state arrest for a DUI.

“I want to apologize to the Martinez family and Ms. Acevedo. I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness. … I will regret that night forever and I hope that everyone that was part of Mr. Martinez’s family and life can find some solace and comfort,” Jackson said in a statement.

Maria Acevedo, Martinez’s fianceé, spoke after the verdict and said, “We had everything planned. That car accident changed my life and not in a good way. … That night is engraved in my mind and will never fade away. … I ran back to the driver’s side and got in to see Gabriel and I remember he never looked so peaceful. His eyes were closed. I didn’t want to believe he was dead and at the time I didn’t know he was. … I was distraught. I was confused. I was in shock. How could the love of my life be dead? We were just talking about our plans for the next day.”

Martinez’s daughter, Casiana Martinez, said in a statement, “I thought I would have more time with my dad. That my babies would get to grow up with the best grandfather that they had. I thought I would get to experience more life with the person I could easily say was my person. My dad was taken from us at the young age of 56 years old. And yet the chances are, the man that did this to my dad will be out of prison before he reaches that age as if his actions didn’t create all of this pain, loss and heartache. … We’ll continue to fight for my father.”

The incident took place at approximately 1:30 a.m. on July 3, 2022, on Highway 111 in Palm Springs.