By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4)– A woman caught on video beating an 80-year-old man to death was found not guilty of murder. A jury found Stephanie Martinez guilty of a lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.

(credit: CBS)

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Martinez was out on a $0 bond when the assault happened.

A CBS4 investigation found she is among thousands of people charged with felonies who’ve been released from Denver County Court on $0 PR bonds. Martinez was charged with two assaults just two months before the death of George Black.

The 80-year-old was sitting outside the state Capitol on a Saturday afternoon when he was attacked. Martinez’s own attorney admitted she killed him but says it was a tragedy, not murder. He says she couldn’t have known that Black had health problems and that her actions would cause his death. Had Black been healthy, he says, he’d still be alive.

John Stewardson, Black’s nephew, says his uncle isn’t to blame, “They’re looking for any excuse to try to get her to a lesser charge so she doesn’t have to face the punishment she should have to face.”

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Prosecutors agreed. They said Martinez, who has a long criminal history, knew exactly what she was doing when she repeatedly punched the 80-year-old in the face, then walked away, and – after deliberation – came back and knocked Black down and beat him until a witness pulled her off. Prosecutors say her intent was clear. But the jury disagreed.

Stewardson says the system failed his uncle again, “She made a choice for whatever reason to beat on my uncle. You have to pay for what you do, there is a consequence.”

Criminally negligent homicide carries a sentence of up to 3 years but Martinez could get probation. First-degree murder would have meant life in prison.

(credit: CBS)

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Stewardson, who lives in Virginia, says he will fly out here to testify at the sentencing.

Shaun Boyd