PLAQUEMINE — A district court judge on Wednesday denied a Plaquemine man's request to lift his sentence of five years probation in a nearly 20 year-old murder case. 

Judge Alvin Batiste told Clint Martinez he will remain on probation until Dec. 2020 because of the severity of the crime that he was accused of committing and because his probation sentence was a part of a plea deal he struck with the state's Attorney General's Office two years ago.  

Martinez in Dec. 2015 received just five years' probation after pleading no contest to negligent homicide and aggravated criminal damage for the murder of Leander "Lee-Lee" Johnson who died from injuries the 29-year-old suffered when his Bayou Sorrel trailer was set on fire. 

A no-contest plea has the same effect as a guilty plea in criminal court but is not considered an admission of guilt in civil court. 

Johnson's death was described as a "love triangle killing." The victim was one of Martinez's closest friends before he started dating Martinez's estranged wife. 

Johnson was killed on the night of May 30, 1998 after he attended a crawfish boil with Martinez's wife. 

Prosecutors theorized that Martinez felt humiliated by his wife's public appearance with her lover and went to Johnson's trailer during a fit of rage, cut the telephone wire, subdued the victim, doused him with accelerant and then set him on fire. 

Martinez was originally indicted in 2000 on one count of second-degree murder. The case took several legal twists over the years.  A judge in 2002 declared a mistrial because of a deadlocked jury and a complicated chain of back-and-forth decisions followed through the state's appellate courts. 

Martinez was set to be retried in New Roads in 2015 when he agreed to the plea deal that awarded him just five years' probation for Johnson's death. 

Martinez's attorneys tried arguing in court Wednesday that their client's probation should be lifted because he has been a humble citizen for first two years following his sentence. 

"Obviously we're very pleased with the judge's decision," Jeff Taylor, as assistant attorney general for the criminal division of the state's Department of Justice, said on behalf of the Johnson's family Wednesday. "Of course, they can make the request again in a new year. He has that right to do so."

Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.