Man who set Tempe man on fire, killing him in 2016 reaches plea deal

Mikel Martin agreed to a plea deal in connection to the 2016 case.
Mikel Martin agreed to a plea deal in connection to the 2016 case.(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 4:52 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A man who police said killed a man in Tempe in 2016 when he set him on fire has reached a plea deal. Mikel Martin pleaded guilty on Wednesday to three felonies, including second-degree murder, in connection to the case.

Police said Mikel Martin messaged Martin Valenzuela through an ad on Craigslist and agreed to meet on July 24, 2016, at Martin’s apartment. Martin claims Valenzuela was naked, got drunk and passed out. Investigators said Martin then set Valenzuela and his apartment on fire. Martin then stole several items and left the apartment. Valenzuela died a week later at the hospital. Martin was found and arrested on Aug. 3, 2016.

Martin was originally charged with nine felonies but with the plea deal, it’s down to second-degree murder, arson of an occupied structure and trafficking in stolen property. His sentencing is scheduled for June 17. Martin likely faces a minimum of 16 years in prison.