Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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Media Advisory: Jerry Duane Martin Scheduled for Execution

AUSTIN – Pursuant to a court order by the 278th District Court of Walker County, Texas, Jerry Duane Martin is scheduled for execution after 6 p.m. on December 3, 2013. 

In December 2009, Martin was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death by a Walker County jury. 

FACTS OF THE CASE

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals described the facts of the crime as follows:

[Martin] was charged with capital murder, specifically, committing murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution.

The evidence at trial established that on September 24, 2007, [Martin] was an inmate incarcerated for a felony offense at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (“TDCJ”) Wynne Unit located in Huntsville. He and fellow inmate John Falk were assigned to the same work squad that morning to hoe and aerate the onion patch. The Wynne Unit onion patch is outside the main perimeter fence of the prison and adjacent to the City of Huntsville Service Center (“Service Center”). The Service Center was, at that time, separated from prison property by only a chain-link fence in some portions and a barbed-wire fence in others.

Four squads had been turned out to work that day, each consisting of twenty inmates with a single armed guard on horseback. Each guard carried a .357 revolver with six bullets. An armed supervising sergeant accompanied the squads in the fields. Finally, a “high rider” also patrolled the squads. The high rider was another guard on horseback who patrolled outside the prison fence on Service Center property and acted as the “last line of defense” in the event of an escape attempt. The high rider carried a .357 revolver with six bullets and a .223 rifle with four rounds. The high rider that day was Officer Susan Canfield, an experienced rider and guard.

[Martin] was part of squad number five, which was assigned to work in the portion of the onion field closest to the Service Center. Officer Joe Jeffcoat oversaw [Martin’s] squad. Falk was assigned to the row in their squad's section farthest from the fence, and [Martin] voluntarily took the row next to him. Jeffcoat testified that [Martin] and Falk were friends and that they usually worked together. He also noted that he had never had any problems with the pair before that day.

After the squads had been working for a while, [Martin] approached Jeffcoat asked him to hold his watch because it had broken. Jeffcoat agreed. When [Martin] got about 20 feet from him, Jeffcoat heard something to his left; he turned to see Falk walking towards him from the other side. When he turned back towards [Martin], [Martin] was already at Jeffcoat's side reaching for his .357 revolver. [Martin] and Jeffcoat began struggling over the gun, and Jeffcoat yelled for help. Falk then started shoving Jeffcoat out of his saddle. [Martin] was able to get the gun as Jeffcoat came off his horse on top of him. Jeffcoat began to wrestle with [Martin], but Falk came around and [Martin] tossed the gun to him. Jeffcoat let go of [Martin] and started after Falk, but Falk pointed the gun at him. At this time, Jeffcoat heard his superior, Field Sergeant Larry Grissom, yell to get down, so he did.

[Martin] and Falk then fled through the barbed-wire fence and onto Service Center property. Grissom and the other guards focused on apprehending Falk because Falk had the gun. [Martin] ran off in another direction. Grissom fired twice at Falk, but Falk ran behind some equipment. Guards from two of the other squads also fired shots at Falk but to no avail.

At this point, the high rider, Canfield, engaged in a gun fight with Falk. Canfield advanced on Falk while firing at him with her revolver. When Canfield expended her bullets, Falk ran at her as she was trying to remove her rifle from its scabbard. The two engaged in a struggle for the weapon while Canfield attempted to turn her horse away from Falk. However, once Falk jabbed his stolen revolver in her ribs, Canfield ceased struggling and Falk took the rifle. Falk then backed away.

Meanwhile, during the gunfight, [Martin] ran to a truck parked outside the Service Center sign shop. Larry Horstman of the City of Huntsville sign shop testified that the truck was a one-ton, flat-bed pick-up truck with toolboxes on the side. He stated that he always parked the truck about 10 feet from the sign shop door and left the keys in it. Jeffcoat testified that he saw the truck parked in the same spot every time he was working in the onion field.

[Martin] got into the truck and sped straight towards Canfield. Horstman testified that he heard his truck take off “real fast.” Other witnesses testified that the truck was “floorboarded,” “going as fast as it could go,” “being revved at high rpms,” leaving acceleration marks as it hit Canfield and her horse just after Falk backed away. Canfield and the horse went up onto the hood of the truck. Canfield's back and shoulders hit the windshield and her head struck the roof. Canfield was then launched into the air and came down on her head, shoulder, and neck. There was no evidence [Martin] tried to brake before hitting Canfield or that the truck slid into her and her horse; however, he did turn toward the Service Center exit while, or immediately after, striking her with the truck. Witnesses also testified that there was enough room in the Service Center lot that [Martin] could have avoided hitting Canfield.

After striking Canfield and her horse, [Martin] stopped the truck and Falk ran to the passenger side and got in. Jeffcoat testified that they then “took off as fast as the truck could go.” Jay Miller, a fire hydrant technician with the Service Center, saw [Martin] take the truck and managed to follow it as it left the Service Center lot. Miller called 9–1–1 and remained on the phone during the chase. Miller testified that at one point the truck's passenger sat up in the windowsill of the truck and pointed a rifle at him. Miller further testified that the passenger fired at him, but his vehicle was not hit. Miller continued to chase them on and off the highway until the truck pulled into a parking lot and the inmates got out and ran into some nearby woods. Miller parked his vehicle to block the road and then chased the inmates on foot to see if they were going to come out on the other side of a fence at the bank next door. The police arrived at this time and Miller directed them towards the bank.

Walker County Deputy Brian Smallwood arrived at the bank to see [Martin] and Falk run to a red truck that was in the drive-thru lane. Falk entered through the driver's door and shoved the female driver over. [Martin], who now had the rifle, jumped into the bed of the truck. Huntsville Police Sergeant Ron Cleere also observed this and got out of his vehicle with his gun drawn, but the inmates drove off before he could attempt to stop them. Cleere fired at the truck's tires seven times hitting one of them, but the truck did not stop. Both Smallwood and Cleere pursued the red truck.

Falk drove the truck onto the interstate but exited after only 3/4 of a mile. He pulled onto a grassy field next to some woods because the right front tire was shredded. Smallwood pulled his car into a ditch 50 yards away from the red truck. [Martin] stood up in the bed of the truck and pointed the rifle at Smallwood. Smallwood heard a shot as he opened his door. Smallwood fired at [Martin] as [Martin] ran into the woods. Cleere arrived and fired at [Martin] as well. Falk got out of the truck and also ran for the woods. Cleere saw [Martin] again on the edge of the woods, using the base of a tree to steady the rifle. Cleere went to retrieve his own rifle from his car, but when he returned he did not see [Martin]. [Martin] then stood up and Cleere fired at him with his rifle, but [Martin] got away. When other officers arrived, they set up a perimeter around the wooded area. The owner of the truck was unharmed.

Huntsville police Lieutenant Daryl Slaven apprehended Falk behind the Walmart on the other side of the wooded area. When Falk heard the police car, he stopped and put his hands in the air. The authorities searched for [Martin] in the wooded area on horseback and using dogs. The rifle was found lying in the woods with three rounds still in it. After approximately two hours, [Martin’s] boots and some clothing were found hidden in the dirt of a creek bed. [Martin] was eventually discovered hiding in a tree wearing only his underwear.

Dallas County Medical Examiner Tracy Dyer testified that Canfield died from a significant impact that caused an unsurvivable hinge fracture to her skull which went from ear to ear. Viewing photos of the damage to truck, Dyer opined that it would have taken a “significant amount of velocity” for Canfield's body to have caused the dent at top of the windshield. She noted that Canfield also sustained a depressed skull fracture as well as external injuries including bruising and lacerations to her head, hands, arms, trunk, and legs. Veterinarian Richard Posey testified that Canfield's horse had extensive injuries from a bullet wound, plus trauma to its left hip, scrapes on its hips and hock, and a swollen joint on its front leg from the impact. The horse had to be put down.       

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In December 2009, a jury found Martin guilty of the offense of capital murder. The jury answered the special issues submitted pursuant to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 37.071, and the trial court, accordingly, set Martin’s punishment at death.

On Oct. 31, 2012, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Martin’s conviction and sentence on direct appeal. 

On June 27, 2012, Martin filed an application for writ of habeas corpus in the convicting court; however, Martin expressed his desire to waive habeas review. On June 14, 2013, the trial court held a hearing to determine if Martin’s decision to waive appeal was intelligently and voluntarily made. The trial court concluded that Martin “made a knowing, voluntary, uncoerced intelligent decision to end his appeals, and it recommended that [Martin] be permitted to end all further habeas actions.” 

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the trial court’s recommendation and dismissed Martin’s pending application, holding that all claims raised in that application, as well as any that could have been raised, were waived.

On Sept. 16, 2013, the 278th Judicial District Court of Walker County, Texas, set Martin’s execution date for Dec. 3, 2013.

Martin has not sought federal habeas review of his conviction and sentence, and has no appeal pending at this time. 

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

Under Texas law, the rules of evidence prevent certain prior criminal acts from being presented to a jury during the guilt-innocence phase of the trial. Once a defendant is found guilty, however, jurors are presented information about the defendant’s prior criminal conduct during the second phase of the trial – which is when they determine the defendant’s punishment.

At the time he killed Canfield, Martin was serving a 50-year sentence for attempted capital murder, a 40-year sentence for another attempted capital murder, a 10-year sentence for aggravated assault, and a 10-year sentence for failure to appear.

The victims of the attempted capital murders and the aggravated assault were peace officers, and the facts of those crimes are as follows. On Aug. 15, 1994, after police were called to Martin’s mother’s home regarding a domestic disturbance with shots fired, Martin led the responding officers on a high-speed chase. Martin was driving between 60 to 70 mph on a two-lane country road, and drove through yards adjacent to homes.  During the chase, Martin was seen waiving a gun, and exchanged gunfire with the officers. 

Martin eventually turned off the road into a maize field and positioned his truck so that it faced back toward the road. Martin got out of the truck holding a gun to his head. A stand-off ensued that lasted several hours. Other officers, sharp shooters, and police negotiators came to the scene, but, per policy, the officers were ordered not to return fire if Martin fired his weapon.

A sheriff's negotiator, attempted to get Martin to surrender and turn over his gun. The negotiator spoke with Martin while behind a bulletproof shield. Martin threatened to kill the negotiator, and did fire a shot in close proximity to him. Martin fired other shots, one coming close to another officer. Martin was eventually arrested, and no one was harmed.

Following his arrest Martin was released on bond but fled Texas and failed to make his court appearance. Martin was arrested in Kansas in 1997 and returned to Texas to face charges for aggravated assault, two attempted capital murders, and failure to appear.

MISCELLANEOUS

For additional information and statistics, please go to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website at www.tdcj.state.tx.us.