Attorney General Steve Marshall announced that the indictment of former state trooper George Martin will be reinstated and that he will be retried for the 1995 capital murder of his wife in Mobile County. The Alabama Supreme Court today reversed lower court rulings that had dismissed the indictment.
Martin was convicted in 2000 and served 15 years on death row for killing Hammoleketh Martin. In 2015 the conviction was overturned and a new trial was ordered. Rather than proceeding with a retrial, the lower court dismissed the indictment and Martin was freed.
After exhausting his direct appeals, Martin and a team of pro-bono attorneys fought a nearly decade-long battle to introduce new evidence to the case in a process known as a Rule 32 appeal. When Circuit Court Judge Robert Smith ultimately dismissed the case during a retrial last year, he noted it was “riddled with impropriety and missteps brought about during the prosecution,” and said “substantial prejudice has been demonstrated and is such that the simple use of prior transcribed testimony would not accommodate the confrontation required by the Constitution …”
After his release, Martin sued the city of Mobile and several prosecutors in the case for damages. That case is still pending in U.S. District Court. The Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision in 2016. Today, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed both decisions.
In today’s order, the Court restates the facts of the case as follows: “In 1995, the charred remains of Martin’s wife, Hammoleketh, were found inside a burned vehicle that had collided with a tree. Although it appeared to be an accident, evidence indicated that the vehicle fire was intentionally set and that the victim was alive when the fire started. Further evidence indicated that Martin made inconsistent statements to law enforcement concerning the time he discovered his wife missing, whether his wife carried a gasoline can in her vehicle and whether his wife had used a BIC brand lighter found at the scene as a flashlight because the dome light in her vehicle did not work.”
According to a press release from Marshall’s office, although Martin acknowledged the existence of a $200,000 life insurance policy, he denied there was any other. In fact, there was another policy for $150,000 that was collectible only if his wife died in a passenger vehicle. A trooper report prepared by Martin the year before involved an accident with similar circumstances.
The Attorney General’s Criminal Appeals Division argued that the indictment was improperly dismissed and that Martin should be required to stand trial again. The Alabama Supreme Court agreed and reversed the lower courts’ decisions and ordered that Martin must be retried for capital murder. The Attorney General’s Criminal Trials Division will prosecute the case.
Attorney General Marshall commended Assistant Attorney General Audrey Jordan for her successful work in handling the matter on appeal.