Trial delayed for competency test

WARREN – The capital murder trial for a man accused in the 2012 killing of a 21-year-old man at a home on Oak Circle S.W. has been pushed back to allow the defendant to undergo a competency test.

Jury selection in David Martin’s trial was to begin April 9. However, Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan agreed to the competency test during a brief, closed hearing on Friday.

The move pushed the opening of the trial to Aug. 27. A status conference on the case is scheduled April 15. The delay could cost the county hundreds of dollars because 400 questionnaires already have been sent out to prospective jurors. With the latest development, new questionnaires will have to be sent out, likely in July, costing the county about $7 for each mailing, or an additional $2,800.

The decision to have Martin’s competency tested came after new information was provided.

Prosecutors declined to comment about the matter.

Last week, Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor Chris Becker filed a motion asking for David Martin to be shackled for his murder trial, saying the accused murderer had blurted out a threat heard by corrections officers in the Trumbull County Jail. Becker asked Logan to take the precaution since restraining any defendant lies within the discretion of the judge.

Becker said in the motion that sometime after Martin appeared in Logan’s court Feb. 21 for the continuation of a suppression hearing that Martin told a corrections officer, “When I go to trial, I’m going to grab the first gun I can when I have a chance to. I’m not going to death row!”

An inner-jail report cautions: “All officers need to use extreme caution when dealing with (Martin) due to the nature of his charges and for the safety and security of the staff and facility.”

Routinely, inmates wear civilian clothing and are unshackled and not wearing handcuffs so jurors are not prejudiced by the confinement and to enforce the presumption of innocence.

Martin is accused of killing 21-year-old Jeremy Cole and wounding Melissa Putnam, 29, on Sept. 27, 2012. Cole was shot in the head and Putnam, 29, was shot in the hand. The bullet traveled through her hand and into her neck, but she recovered from her injuries after 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 as both were robbed.

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.