Arundel judge gives man convicted in shooting a life sentence

Prosecutors contended he tried to have man acquitted of pulling trigger killed

December 21, 2010|By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

A Waldorf man convicted of trying to kill his pregnant girlfriend, a Crofton hairdresser, was given a life sentence Tuesday by an Anne Arundel County judge.

Prosecutors contended Charles Brandon Martin, 33, sent a letter from his jail cell after he was convicted in the 2008 shooting that disabled Jodi Torok that sought to have the man acquitted of being the triggerman killed. Jail officials intercepted the letter and gave it to prosecutors.

The letter was authenticated by a Maryland State Police expert, over the objection of the defense, at the hearing before Judge Pamela L. North.

Anastasia Prigge, an assistant Anne Arundel County state's attorney prosecuting the case, said Martin deserved the maximum sentence possible, though his lawyer sought less time in prison.

"Life. He is a very dangerous man," Prigge said.

She called Martin ruthless and manipulative in court papers. But letters to the court from his mother and a former sports coach describe a warm person.

The letter at the center of the dispute asked another person to ensure that the man acquitted of shooting Torok, Jerold Raymond Burks, tells police that "Maggie" was behind the shooting. At Burks' trial, prosecutors argued that Burks shot Torok to work off a $400 drug debt to Martin.

Though Martin was found not guilty in May of soliciting murder, he was convicted of attempted first-degree murder and related charges. A prosecution DNA expert told the jury that what was most likely Martin's DNA was found on tape at the mouth of a Gatorade bottle at Torok's home, where she was shot and wounded. The bottle appeared to have been a homemade silencer, and its bottom was blown out.

Prosecutors said Martin, who has four children with his wife and two children by another woman, was angry that Torok, who was one of his girlfriends, refused to have an abortion when she told him she was pregnant.

In his pleadings to the judge, Martin's attorney, Leonard Stamm, indicated that, depending on the reading of the sentencing guidelines, his client could face up to nine or 10 years.

"I'm hoping that the judge stays within the sentencing guidelines," Stamm had said.

When Martin was convicted in May, Prigge said the guidelines would be more than double that. Stamm has vowed to appeal the conviction.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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