90 N.E.3d 857 (Ohio 2017), 2014-1922, State v. Martin

Docket Nº:2014-1922
Citation:90 N.E.3d 857, 151 Ohio St.3d 470, 2017-Ohio-7556
Opinion Judge:French, J.
Party Name:The STATE of Ohio, Appellee, v. MARTIN, Appellant.
Attorney:Dennis Watkins, Trumbull County Prosecuting Attorney, and Christopher D. Becker and LuWayne Annos, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellee. John B. Juhasz, Youngstown; and Maro & Schoenike Co. and Lynn A. Maro, for appellant.
Judge Panel:O’Connor, C.J., and O’Donnell, Kennedy, Fischer, and DeWine, JJ., concur. O’Neill, J., concurs in part and dissents in part,
Case Date:September 13, 2017
Court:Supreme Court of Ohio

The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of aggravated murder with three death specifications and his sentence of death. The court held (1) the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion for change of venue; (2) Defendant’s trial counsel did not render ineffective assistance in conducting voir dire; (3) the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress the ... (see full summary)


Page 857

90 N.E.3d 857 (Ohio 2017)

151 Ohio St.3d 470, 2017-Ohio-7556

The STATE of Ohio, Appellee,


MARTIN, Appellant.

No. 2014-1922

Supreme Court of Ohio

September 13, 2017

Submitted June 6, 2017

Page 858

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 859

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 860

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 861

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 862

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 863

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 864

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 865

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 866

APPEAL from the Court of Common Pleas of Trumbull County, No. 2012 CR 735.

Dennis Watkins, Trumbull County Prosecuting Attorney, and Christopher D. Becker and LuWayne Annos, Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, for appellee.

John B. Juhasz, Youngstown; and Maro & Schoenike Co. and Lynn A. Maro, for appellant.


French, J.

[¶ 1] This is a death-penalty appeal of right. Appellant, David Martin, shot Jeremy Cole to death and attempted to kill Melissa " Missy" Putnam during a kidnapping and robbery at Putnam’s home in Warren. A jury found Martin guilty of aggravated murder with three death specifications, and he was sentenced to death. For the reasons below, we affirm his convictions and death sentence.


[¶ 2] Putnam was a small-scale marijuana dealer. According to Putnam, Martin was at her house buying marijuana on September 26, 2012. She noticed that he was carrying a gun. Although she had known him only a few months, she invited him to come back the next day to smoke " blunts."

[151 Ohio St.3d 471] [¶ 3] On the morning of September 27, Putnam contacted her friend Jeremy Cole to ask for a ride so that she could look for a job. He picked her up later that morning, and she applied for work at various places. They returned to Putnam’s house around 10:30 or 11:00 a.m.

[¶ 4] While Cole and Putnam were talking in her living room, Martin knocked on the door. Cole invited him in. Martin entered and sat on the couch next to Putnam. Marijuana belonging to Putnam was lying on a nearby table. Martin rolled a blunt, which was passed around. As they smoked, Martin got up twice to go into the kitchen. When he came back the second time, he had a gun in his hand. Putnam recognized it as the same gun she had seen him carrying the day before.

[¶ 5] Martin approached Cole, pointing the gun at his face. Martin called Cole a " child molester" and stated that he had been paid $5,000 to kill him. Martin ordered Cole to sit on the couch with Putnam.

[¶ 6] At some point, according to Putnam, Martin took offense at something Cole said. Martin told him to shut up, then made him lie face down on the floor with his hands behind his back. Martin then ordered Putnam to tie Cole’s hands. Using a phone-charger cord, she tied his hands together loosely. Then Martin had her tie her own hands together with an extension cord. Evidently dissatisfied with Putnam’s work, Martin said, " [Y]ou think I’m playing with you? Tie him up." She retied Cole’s hands more securely, though her own hands were bound.

[¶ 7] Martin dumped the contents of Putnam’s purse onto a chair and took her phone and about $100 in cash. He also took her marijuana from the table. He made Cole and Putnam go into Putnam’s bedroom and lie on the bed. He went through Cole’s pockets and took Cole’s phone.

[¶ 8] Martin asked Cole where his money was. Putnam told him that Cole was " a young kid" with no money. Martin then put his gun to Cole’s head and asked

Page 867

where Cole’s car keys were. Cole said that his girlfriend had them and that she would be back in an hour. Putnam said, " Jeremy, don’t lie to him. Let’s just get him out of this house." She offered to help Martin find the keys.

[¶ 9] Martin retied Putnam’s hands behind her back, and she accompanied him to the living room, where they looked for the keys. Martin then took Putnam into her daughter’s bedroom and made Putnam lie face down on the floor. Martin said: " I promise I’m not gonna let nothing happen to you, but I can’t speak for" Cole. He covered Putnam’s head with a towel or shirt, then went back to Cole.

[¶ 10] Putnam heard a struggle in the other bedroom. Then " [i]t got quiet." Lying on the floor, after using her chin to move the covering slightly, Putnam could see Martin’s legs in the hallway outside her bedroom. Putnam testified that [151 Ohio St.3d 472] Martin walked out of her view and into the kitchen and that she heard him opening cupboards and drawers there. Then Martin returned to Cole.

[¶ 11] Putnam heard Cole say, " Oh, my God. I can’t breathe." Then there was quiet. Martin came out and paced nervously, then went back into the room with Cole. Putnam heard Cole say: " Get out, Missy. * * * He’s about to shoot me." She then heard a shot.

[¶ 12] Putnam freed one of her hands. Looking up, she saw Martin standing over her. She put her hand over her face and said, " Please don’t shoot me in the face." He said, " I’m sorry, Missy," and shot her. The bullet passed through Putnam’s right hand and entered her neck, leaving fragments in the right side of her neck near the base of her skull.

[¶ 13] According to Martin’s subsequent confession, he left the crime scene on foot, walking " from the west side [of town] to the east side." On his way back, he stopped underneath a bridge. There he removed his wristwatch and clothes, except for a pair of shorts, and burned them. By 1:00 p.m., according to his girlfriend, Martin had returned home and taken a shower.

[¶ 14] Meanwhile, Putnam regained consciousness, climbed out a window and fled to the house of a neighbor, who called 9-1-1. Warren police officers were dispatched. Putnam met them and directed them to her house.

[¶ 15] Officers found Cole face down on the bedroom floor, alive but breathing shallowly. His hands were tied behind his back with the cord of Putnam’s bedroom alarm clock, rather than the phone cord Putnam had used. He was taken to Trumbull Memorial Hospital, where he died.

[¶ 16] While examining the crime scene, a detective recovered a shell casing from the bed in Putnam’s bedroom and another from the floor of the other bedroom. He later sent these to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (" BCI" ).

[¶ 17] Dr. Humphrey D. Germaniuk, the Trumbull County coroner, performed an autopsy on Cole’s body the next day. Dr. Germaniuk noted that Cole had been shot once between the eyes and concluded that the shot had been fired from a distance of three to eight inches. He concluded that Cole had died of a penetrating gunshot wound to the head. Dr. Germaniuk recovered the jacket of the bullet from Cole’s brain and the core from the rear of his skull. These were sent to BCI.

[¶ 18] Detective Wayne Mackey interviewed Putnam on September 27. She described the shooter. Mackey assembled and presented to Putnam two photographic lineups— one that day and one on October 1— but Putnam did not identify anyone

Page 868

from either lineup. After further investigation, Mackey put together another lineup on October 1. This one contained Martin’s photograph. When [151 Ohio St.3d 473] presented with this lineup, Putnam immediately and emphatically identified Martin. The next day, Mackey obtained a warrant for Martin’s arrest.

[¶ 19] On October 16, 2012, a unit of the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force arrested Martin in Tallmadge at the apartment of David Fleetwood. During the arrest, task-force officers seized a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun. Deputy United States Marshals William Boldin and Anne Murphy, task-force members, transported Martin to the Warren police station by way of the Summit County jail in Akron.

[¶ 20] Martin made several incriminating statements to Boldin and Murphy while in their custody. Before being transported, he admitted that the gun was his. En route to Akron, he made the following remarks: " I did what I had to do." " I can accept the needle. I did what I did, but I had to." " I’m the trigger man. You got the gun. I’m hit. I got no reason to lie."

[¶ 21] On the way from Akron to Warren, Martin asked the marshals whether they would like to see where he had burned his clothes on the night after the shootings. Boldin said that he would, and Martin directed them to the site under the bridge. He mentioned that he had burned a watch but that it did not burn completely. His directions led the marshals to a pile of burned material, which included a partly melted watchband. The marshals then drove Martin to the Warren police station, where Detective Mackey interrogated him after advising him of his Miranda rights.

[¶ 22] Martin readily admitted shooting Cole and Putnam but denied robbing them. In Martins...

To continue reading