Testimony: Suspect spotted at scene day before Warren shooting

WARREN – A local man testified Friday that he saw a man he later learned was David Martin at what would become a murder scene a day later. And the witness said Martin had a gun tucked into his waistband.

James Hillard, 35, of Warren, was on the witness stand at a suppression hearing leading up to the April 9 capital murder trial of Martin, who is accused of killing 21-year-old Jeremy Cole and wounding Cole’s friend Melissa Putnam on Sept. 27, 2012, at a home on Oak Circle S.W.

Hillard said he renewed a friendship with Putnam through Facebook and went to see her Sept. 26, 2012, to ”hang out.” He described a man he later picked out of a police photo lineup as Martin.

”I talked about being in the home improvement business. He was bragging about being tougher than younger guys on the street. He said he had been to prison and flashed the gun,” Hillard said.

Hillard said tattoos under the eyes and on his neck helped identify Martin, according to the testimony. He said he had a bad feeling about Martin.

Hillard, who said he smoked marijuana with Putnam, said it was days later when he got a call from Putnam, who was in the hospital recovering from a bullet wound. ”She told me I was right, and that the same dude shot her.”

Hillard was the last witness in the suppression hearing that has taken three sessions in the courtroom of Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan, who will await further written arguments before ruling whether Hillard’s identification and other methods of identification and certain statements remain as evidence in the trial.

Defense attorneys for Martin also got permission to hire a neuropsychologist for up to $8,250 to examine Martin for any mitigation in the case.

Prosecutors and the defense also will give Logan more written arguments on whether the defense must share certain prison records about Martin with the prosecution before trial.

Martin, who served prison time before, blurted out what amounts to a confession when they arrested him in Akron in connection to Cole’s murder. The defense argued earlier to suppress those remarks.

Putnam also testified earlier that she sold marijuana to Martin.

Cole was shot in the head and Putnam, 29, was shot in the hand. The bullet traveled through her hand and into her neck, and she spent four days in the hospital.

Cole and Putnam were both tied up and placed in different rooms at the home during the apparent robbery. Martin allegedly made Putnam tie up Cole at gunpoint, then Martin tied up Putnam. She said her face was covered with a towel.

Martin could face the death penalty if convicted of the aggravated murder charge and the aggravated circumstances. He also faces firearms specifications on counts of aggravated robbery, kidnapping and a repeat violent offender specification, having weapons while under disability, receiving stolen property because it is alleged he used a stolen gun, and tampering with evidence because he tried to burn his clothes.