High court upholds death penalty for Trumbull County murderer

The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday affirmed the conviction and death sentence of Trumbull County murderer David Martin.

The high court unanimously upheld the murder, attempted murder and other felony convictions, while the court voted 6-1 to uphold the death sentence for Martin in the Sept. 27, 2012, shooting death of Jeremy Cole and wounding of Melissa Putnam at Putnam’s Oak Circle SW home in Warren.

Justice William M. O’Neill, in stating his long-standing opposition to the death penalty, was the lone holdout on the panel.

Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins said he was pleased with the decision. He especially lauded Assistant Trumbull County Prosecutor LuWayne Annos, now retired, who argued the case before the high court June 6, and trial prosecutors Christopher Becker and Gabriel Wildman.

“We especially appreciated the work of the prosecutors as well as the outstanding investigation done by the Warren Police Department and the U.S. Marshal’s Service,” Watkins said. “This office also thanks the citizens who served on the jury in this case.”

Martin was convicted by a Trumbull County jury Sept. 11, 2014, of capital murder charges and other felonies. On Sept. 24, 2014, Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge Andrew D. Logan sentenced Martin to death.

In their challenge, Martin’s attorneys argued their client’s statements to marshals after his Oct. 16, 2012, arrest in Tallmadge should have been kept from jurors. However, the high court ruled those remarks were voluntarily made.

Martin’s attorneys also objected to the trial’s mitigation phase that preceded Logan’s sentencing, stating Martin’s claims of a troubled childhood were not given full weight.

However, the high court disagreed.

“At best, Martin’s mitigating factors deserved modest weight. We find that the three aggravating circumstances, especially the course-of-conduct circumstance, outweigh the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt,” the court wrote.

The high court also negated defense claims that prejudicial pretrial publicity denied Martin a fair trial and his trial counsel was ineffective during jury selection.

In that argument, defense lawyers cited a juror who was a coworker of victim Cole, but the two were not friends.

Attorney John Juhasz said Wednesday afternoon he has no comment because he did not yet read the high court’s opinion. Juhasz said Martin still has an appeal pending in the 11th District Court of Appeals, with a hearing set in October, before he can go through the federal appeals process.

According to trial testimony, Martin shot Cole once through the head and wounded Putnam, who was hit with a bullet that went through her right hand and entered her neck. The shootings came after the two victims were bound and robbed, testimony states.