All the complaints aside, it would be one awful big coincidence if this little boy just happened to drown after an "accidental" drug overdose when dad JEFFREY MARTINSON just happened to be in a "custody dispute" with Mom, and that Dad somehow forgot to call 911 before failing to kill himself.
Personally, I'm finding the Easter Bunny more believable....
Yet another dad who should have been denied child access.
Arizona man convicted of killing son granted new trial
by Michael Kiefer - Mar. 28, 2012 03:13 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com
Inadmissible testimony by a medical examiner and juror misconduct prompted a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to grant a new trial to a man convicted of killing his 5-year-old son in 2004.
Jeffrey Martinson, 45, was accused of giving a drug overdose to his son Josh and then attempting suicide. He was involved in a custody dispute with the boy's mother, and police and prosecutors assumed he was carrying out a murder-suicide. However, prosecutors charged him with felony murder -- meaning that the child died because of child abuse -- rather than premeditated murder.
In his defense, Martinson claimed he thought the boy had drowned in the bath tub, and that he tried to kill himself because he was distraught over his son's drowning. Defense attorneys Michael Terribile and Treasure VanDreumel also argued that Josh may have taken the drugs found in his system himself, without Martinson's knowledge.
During the trial, a medical examiner opined that the manner of death was homicide, which he deduced from information police had provided him, including the custody battle and the fact that Martinson did not call 911.
The jurors found Martinson guilty of first-degree murder last November. They then found aggravating factors that would qualify him for the death penalty, but hung on whether to sentence Martinson to death or to life in prison.
Before the court could impanel a new jury to decide the sentence, a juror came forward to claim that the jury forewoman had refused to let other jurors see evidence and had pressured some into returning a guilty verdict. Furthermore, he claimed that jurors were talking about the case at lunch, which is forbidden.
At the insistence of Terribile and VanDreumel, Judge Sally Duncan held evidentiary hearings to ascertain whether juror misconduct had occurred. The jury forewoman had already disclosed that her late husband, a law-enforcement officer, had been killed by another police officer. That in itself would not have disqualified her for jury service. But over the course of extensive testimony, Duncan found that the woman had downplayed the impact her husband's death had on her ability to be fair and impartial in Martinson's trial.
The jury forewoman, who had some paralegal training and worked for the Arizona Supreme Court in a non-legal capacity, had overstated her legal knowledge to other jurors, Duncan found. She failed to disclose that she had been the victim of a crime perpetrated by her daughter, and failed to mention that her late husband had once worked as a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy. She also used scatological terms to refer to Martinson in front of other jurors and derided his lawyers and expert witnesses, saying it was their job to lie and confuse the jury.
In her ruling Tuesday, Duncan wrote, "The inference that can be drawn from Juror 14's pattern of misconduct is that she first sought to secure a seat on the jury and then successfully sought to position herself to be selected as its foreperson ... Juror 14 frustrated the (jury selection) purpose and process by concealing her personal biases which ultimately, as the record plainly reveals, blossomed into prejudice that infected the trial to the Defendant's substantial prejudice. It is not relevant whether Juror 14 intended to subvert the process. The fact remains that she did."
Duncan also cited a recent Arizona Court of Appeals opinion, published as she was considering Martinson's retrial, regarding testimony of medical examiners. Martinson's attorneys had asked that the medical examiner not give his opinion as to whether Josh's death was a homicide because it was not based on medical evidence. Duncan allowed the testimony, but wrote in her ruling Tuesday that she had erred and the testimony was unfairly prejudicial to Martinson. That in itself, she ruled, was grounds for a retrial.
Martinson's next court appearance is scheduled for April 10.