UPPER KEYS -- Investigat-ors have wrapped up their work on an alleged Christmas Eve night attempted murder in international waters, 40 miles off Key Largo, and are now awaiting a decision from the U.S. Attorney's Office about whether to convene a grand jury in the case.
"As far as our investigation is concerned, we found plenty of cause that it did happen," Paul Shultz, resident in charge at the Coast Guard Investigative Service office in Key West, said last week about the case involving Canadian Jeannette Martinez and her now 18-year-old niece Alexandra Ryken. "We are just waiting for the prosecutor to move on it."
Ben Coats, the U.S. Attorney tasked with the case, declined to comment when reached last week. He referred calls to the office's spokeswoman Alicia Valle, who did not respond to a phone message.
According to statements that Ryken and Jeanette's estranged husband, Mike Martinez, have submitted to the court, Jeanette attempted to throw Ryken into the Gulf Stream as the trio motored westward this past Dec. 24 at the end of an excursion to the Exumas.
The attempt on Ryken's life, they wrote, came after Jeanette had behaved erratically throughout the vacation. At times she talked of how much she was enjoying the trip, which came at the end of Ryken's six-month stay with her aunt and uncle on Mike Martinez' Tavernier-based boat. But Mike also wrote that on four occasions Jeanette told him that she planned to throw Ryken overboard.
On Dec. 20, according to Ryken's statement, Jeanette told her that she wanted to throw her so far she'd end up back in Miami.
Ryken was handling watch on Christmas Eve night when the situation allegedly exploded. Mike was awakened, he wrote, to Ryken screaming his name. When he got outside, he saw Jeanette attempting to pull her niece out of the cockpit while Ryken clung desperately to a metal pole.
Jeanette, Ryken wrote, had dragged her three feet before she grabbed the pole and only let go once Mike emerged.
Jeanette, who has returned to Ontrario, could not be reached for comment. Jessica Reilly, one of her divorce attorneys before that case was switched to a Canadian court, has said that the allegations of Mike and Ryken are a cover story designed to obscure a "wildly inappropriate relationship."
Shultz said the Coast Guard Investigative Service believes charges should be brought.
"It looks as if it is going to happen," he said. "The prosecutors haven't come back with any reservations on it yet. In fact, just the opposite."