Man accused of murdering brother in bar fight to face judge

SAN DIEGO -- A man accused of shooting his older brother to death during a brawl at an Escondido bar last year was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on murder and attempted murder charges.

Manuel Martinez, 32, is charged with the Sept. 22 death of 35-year-old Antonio Martinez at Pounders Sports Pub. Police and prosecutors allege that the brothers got into a fight with at least one other bar patron, and the younger sibling opened fire, striking his brother, apparently by accident, and another man involved in the fight. The surviving victim was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

Antonio Martinez got into a fight with two other men at the pub on West Grand Avenue shortly before 1 a.m., Escondido Police Department Lt. Chris Lick said. He said the brothers walked out of the tavern, got into a car and sped off recklessly, prompting a patron to yell at them in protest.

Hearing the angry shouts, the two siblings doubled back, got out of the vehicle and allegedly began assaulting the man who had chastised them.

"Manuel (Martinez) pointed a firearm at the patron as (his brother) punched and attacked the patron," Lick alleged.

A bystander soon intervened, grabbing the older brother in an attempt to break up the fight, at which point the defendant allegedly fired off two rounds.

"The third-party victim did not know Antonio or Manuel Martinez and does not have any gang ties," Lick said.

When police arrived in response to the gunfire, witnesses identified Manuel Martinez as the alleged shooter, the lieutenant said. Martinez fled but was arrested following a foot chase and a brief struggle with officers.

The defendant, who's being held on $4 million bail, is due back in court March 20 for a readiness conference.

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