NBC’s ‘Dateline: Night of the Summer Solstice’ is an intriguing episode that examines the brutal 1990 murder of 21-year-old ULCA astrophysics major, Ronald Steven Baker. The young man was apparently searching for spiritual fulfillment when he was found stabbed to death the day after the summer solstice in a train tunnel at Chatsworth Park. And strangely, he was wearing a string necklace with a pentagram pendant. However, even though there were theories about the involvement of alternative religion, witchcraft, and occults, it turned out that Ronald’s roommates, Nathaniel Blalock and Duncan Martinez, were responsible for his untimely death.
Who Are Nathaniel Blalock and Duncan Martinez?
In his freshman year of college, Ronald Baker met Duncan Gordon Martinez while working at Sears, a department store company outlet near the UCLA campus. They subsequently became close friends and even shared a West Hollywood apartment for a year before moving into a two-bedroom Van Nuys residence in January 1990. While they were there, they met Nathaniel Preston Blalock, who eventually became their third roommate. According to reports, Duncan and Ronald were so important to each other that the former had even met the latter’s parents and had not only attended his funeral but also helped eulogize him when the time came.
However, what no one could have ever imagined was that Duncan was also involved in Ronald’s summer solstice murder. When the LAPD started questioning both Duncan and Nathaniel about when they had last seen Ronald or if they knew anything about what had happened to him, Duncan suddenly disappeared. Then, about two years later, in 1993, he resurfaced with an attorney by his side and confessed that he and Nathaniel had both killed their former roommate. He admitted that it was initially just a kidnapping plot to extract money from Ronald’s parents but that it shifted to murder soon after because of Nathaniel and his actions.
Nathaniel Blalock Serving Life, While Duncan Martinez Was Released in 2021
Once Duncan came forward with this information, having waited because he was afraid that he would be charged with accessory to murder, the authorities began to track down Nathaniel. They found him at a county jail, where he was serving time for an unrelated robbery conviction. There, after months of recorded conversations, Nathaniel confessed to using a knife to stab Ronald Baker “at least twice.” But he also implied that it was all Duncan’s idea, not his.
Therefore, both individuals were charged and arrested for murder in connection to the matter. They were held to be tried separately because of the different types of evidence against each of them. Ultimately, in March 1996, after a tumultuous trial and more than three days of deliberations, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury convicted Nathaniel Blalock of the charge against him, sentencing him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The prosecutors had declined to seek the death penalty. Similarly, after his trial, Duncan Martinez received the same sentence in December 1996. However, in the summer of 2020, a Californian governor commuted Duncan’s ruling, meaning that he can be eligible for parole, which he was granted in December of the same year.
Therefore, Duncan Martinez was released from the minimum–maximum security California State Prison in Los Angeles County sometime in early 2021 and today the 52-year-old is leading a life well away from the limelight. On the other hand, Nathaniel Blalock, at the age of 55, is currently serving out his life sentence for Ronald Steven Baker’s murder at the medium-security Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California, according to prison records.
Read More: Where Is Ronald Baker’s Family Now?