On June 20, 1991, Martin and Michael Roland went to the 12th Street Lounge in Lake Charles at about 11:00 p.m., after playing pool and drinking beer for about two hours. The victim, a college student and part-time employee at a pizza outlet, also went to the lounge between 11:00 p.m. and midnight with some of her friends. Martin and the victim met through Roland, who had known the victim previously. During the evening, the victim danced with Martin, while each shared beverages and companionship with other friends in the lounge. About 1:30 a.m. the next morning, after Roland and most of the victim’s friends had left the lounge, the victim asked Martin for a ride home, and Martin agreed. No one ever saw the victim alive again.
About 7:30 a.m., Martin visited Leo Guimbellot, his carpentry supervisor on a recent job, and stated he had met a blonde college student the night before, left the lounge with her and woke up on Galveston Beach not knowing where he was. Martin’s clothes were dirty, and he pointed to vomit in his ashtray, stating, “I guess the bitch threw up in my truck.” When Martin returned to his aunt’s home, in DeQuincy, Louisiana, where he was residing at the time, he was wearing different pants than he wore at the time he left the previous evening, and he had no shirt or shoes. He washed his clothes and his truck seat cover, telling his aunt that they got muddy when he engaged in mud slinging with Roland. Martin also had scratches on his chest and back, a bite mark on his shoulder, and a tear under his tongue. He told his cousin he had fought with a “country boy” in the lounge.
The same morning, Martin told Huey Rushing that he thought he may have killed someone the previous evening and asked Rushing to provide him with an alibi by saying he had spent the night at Rushing’s home. Rushing refused, and Martin told him that on the way back to Lake Charles the woman threatened to report him for rape. Martin talked about a shed in Iowa, a town in Calcasieu Parish, and related that he had put a rope around the girl’s neck, choked her, cut her throat, dug her eyes out, and jumped up and down on a wooden board placed across her neck. In response to a question, Martin asserted that he did not want to be turned in for rape again. In 1984, Martin had raped his own 14-year-old sister at knifepoint while their mother was in the hospital. He was sentenced to 10 years for sexual battery but served only five. Rushing related Martin’s story to his girlfriend, but they deemed it unreal until Rushing heard nine days later that a girl was missing after leaving the 12th Street Lounge. Rushing reported the story to the police, who found the victim’s decomposing body in a search of sheds in the Iowa area. The police found a rope around her neck and a wooden board nearby which contained human blood. The police then obtained a warrant and arrested Martin.
Martin was indicted by a Grand Jury for first degree murder and brought to trial. At the trial, Rushing, Guimbellot and Roland testified to the facts stated above. Other testimony was provided by inmates with whom Martin was incarcerated after his arrest. Robert Williamson testified that Martin stated he left the lounge with the victim, drove to a side road past Iowa and had sex with the highly-intoxicated victim. When the victim accused him of taking advantage of her, he feared a return to the penitentiary, and he pulled her from the truck and strangled her, but had difficulty killing her. Martin disclosed that he had revealed the incident to a friend with whom he had “done time”, and the friend had betrayed him to the authorities. Michael Fontenot, who was also incarcerated with Martin, testified that he stated the victim asked for a ride home from the lounge, and he took her on a dirt road where he had sex with her after removing her tampon which she later reinserted. When she accused him of rape during the ride back, he pulled over near Iowa and strangled her until she passed out. When she resumed breathing, Martin strangled her with a rope and dragged her to a shed, where he left her. His friend told the police “where he put the body and everything”.
Marlin Sweet was a cellmate that Martin had known some years earlier. Martin related to Sweet the events of the evening of the murder, stating that he wanted to have sex with the victim, but that she refused because of her menstrual period. Martin said he “had to have her” and “overpowered her”, although she resisted and fought back. When the victim became hysterical after the sexual encounter and threatened to go to the police, he decided he was not going back to prison for “nobody”. He choked her, first with his hands and then with a rope. She did not die, however, and he put a wooden board across her neck and jumped on it two or three times. Martin then cut out her eyes with a knife so that she could not identify him. There was little physical evidence presented by the prosecution because of the condition of the body. However, human blood was found on the Martin’s pants and truck seat cover, as well as on the wooden board recovered near the body. After the completion of the evidence in the guilt phase of the bifurcated trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty as charged. In the penalty phase, the prosecution relied on the evidence presented in the guilt phase. The defense presented mitigating evidence by a psychiatrist and members of Martin’s family. The jury unanimously recommended the death penalty and Martin was later sentenced to the same by the judge.
Martin and three other inmates on death row attempted an escape but were recaptured before being able to flee the prison grounds. After being overheard planning another escape which involved taking hostages and ramming a car through the prison’s main gate, Martin was moved to the Death Watch cell near the execution chamber, a month before his execution. This was done for security purposes, as the execution building was situated further back from the main gate than the Death Row unit. On May 10, 2002, Martin was executed at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola by lethal injection. His last meal was boiled crawfish, crawfish stew, a garden salad with Italian dressing, oatmeal cookies and whole milk with chocolate syrup. He did not make a statement before his death.
- April, 24, 1967
- May, 10, 2002
- Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana
Cause of Death
- execution by lethal injection