Murder trial off to quick start

WARREN – The capital murder case against David Martin got off to a quick start Tuesday, with attorneys on both sides using a long questionnaire filled out by potential jurors to streamline the jury selection process that normally can take up to two weeks.

The process continues today with 15 possible jurors called for individual questioning in the morning and another 15 called in for the afternoon session in an attempt to have a jury seated by the end of the week or early next week.

More than a half dozen potential jurors were qualified after the first 90 minutes Tuesday afternoon.

Normally, attorneys are lucky to question a dozen people a day summoned for a capital case in an effort to qualify a pool of three dozen or more potential jurors. That pool then undergoes further questioning on what they have heard about the case and their various views on the death penalty.

This time Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan is using a 22-page questionnaire that already gives attorneys a person’s background, employment history, what they have read or heard in the media, and whether they can impose the death penalty if they find Martin guilty.

Martin, 29, is accused of killing 21-year-old Jeremy Cole and wounding Melissa Putnam 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.

Some possible jurors were excused, including a man whose mother was sexually assaulted and who insisted all murderers should be sentenced to die.

The mother of State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, was excused since O’Brien once worked in the county Prosecutor’s Office.

One woman said a soon-to-be stepdaughter in her family had a relationship with Martin in the past and they both discussed the case at length. She was excused.

Another woman was released after explaining that her mother works in the jail kitchen and she works next to the jail in a county job.

She said she also was among other county employees who observed emergency personnel from all over descend on Trumbull County Jail after Martin and two others were accused to taking a corrections officer hostage April 23.