Benjamin Cota was sentenced to death by the State of Arizona for the murder of a couple. According to court documents Benjamin Cota was hired by the couple, Guadalupe Zavala and her husband Victor Martinez, to do work around the home. Benjamin Cota would murder Victor Martinez first by beating him to death with a hammer and then waited for Guadalupe Zavala to come home and when she arrived she was bound with duct tape then repeatedly struck her with a meat cleaver. Benjamin Cota would stay in the home and would forge checks from the couples bank account and used their vehicle. Benjamin Cota would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.
Benjamin Cota 2021 Information
ASPC Florence, Central Unit
PO Box 8200
BENJAMIN B. COTA 137044
Florence, AZ 85132
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Benjamin Bernal Cota was sentenced to death for the murders of Guadalupe Zavala and her husband Victor Martinez. In November of 2003, the Glendale couple hired Cota to do some repairs on their home. The couple was last seen alive on December 30, and on January 6, 2004, police found the bodies of both Martinez and Zavala wrapped in plastic hidden in the bedroom closet. The investigation proved Cota beat Martinez to death with a baseball bat or hammer. Cota then waited for Zavala to come home from work and bound her hands and feet; he struck her in the head and face repeatedly with a meat cleaver or machete. Cota stayed in the residence for the following week, forged checks from the couple’s accounts, and even took title to one of their vehicles. Police arrested Cota after a high-speed pursuit during which he crashed one of the couples vehicles.
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Victor Martinez and his wife, Guadalupe Zavala, lived in Peoria. In late 2003, they hired Cota to assist with home repair projects. Martinez and Zavala had jobs outside their home and spoke with friends and family daily. But on December 30, 2003, both disappeared without explanation.
¶ 3 Martinez was last seen that afternoon. He told his son that he was going to take a nap, and then drive Cota home before going to work at 6:00 p.m. Martinez never arrived at work. Zavala worked until 8:00 p.m. that night, but was never heard from thereafter. Concerned friends, co-workers, and family members called and went by the couple’s home repeatedly in the following days. Cota sometimes answered the telephone and gave inconsistent accounts about the couple’s whereabouts. He also began driving the couple’s pickup truck and gave their car to his son. He sold the couple’s water heater and tried to sell jewelry he claimed the couple had given him.
¶ 4 On January 3, 2004, Cota pawned two of Zavala’s bracelets. He withdrew money from the couple’s bank accounts on January 5 and 6. He invited friends to stay with him at the couple’s home, but told them not to enter the master bedroom or answer the phones. After Cota allowed them to enter the master bedroom, one friend saw a large pile of clothes in the closet.
¶ 5 On January 6, family members went to the home and noticed items missing outside, including the water heater. They called the police and gained entrance into the home. They found the bodies of Martinez and Zavala wrapped in plastic in the master bedroom closet beneath a pile of clothes.
¶ 6 Police located Cota at his mother’s home, where the couple’s pickup truck was parked. During an ensuing chase, Cota tossed items out of the truck, including drugs and his wallet. Police apprehended him after he crashed the truck and fled on foot. His wallet contained Zavala’s date of birth and social security number, and pawn tickets dated January 3. Police searched Cota’s mother’s home and found his shoes. DNA testing of blood on the shoes revealed contributions from Cota, Martinez, and Zavala.
¶ 7 Cota was charged in one indictment with two counts of first degree murder and two counts of armed robbery, and in a second with possession of narcotics and unlawful flight. The indictments were joined for trial, and a jury found Cota guilty on all counts.