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Martinez Trial

Court views video of confession


In a small room at the Sidney police department, just hours after 30-year-old Mandy Kershman’s death, Larry Martinez confessed to law enforcement that he shot her.

Martinez, 54 of Sidney, is charged with first degree murder, a class IA felony and use of a firearm to commit a felony, a class IC felony for allegedly shooting and killing Kershman on July 18, 2012.

Although Martinez’s voice was sometimes difficult to hear on the video interview shown in court on Wednesday, some of the defendant’s statements were clear.

The video showed the jury a fly on the wall view of a small room containing two desks and three chairs. Martinez sat in a corner wearing a white shirt, black gym shorts and a green baseball cap, worn backwards. Both Lieutenant Keith Andrew of the Sidney Police department and Chief Deputy with the Cheyenne County sheriff’s office Fred Weideburg were present for the interview.

Andrew, who asked most of the questions sat facing Martinez.

At first, Martinez indicated that he didn’t know what police wished to speak to him about.

“The reason you’re here, there was a shooting today,” Andrew said.

Andrew indicated that law enforcement had already obtained information about the shooting and wanted to ascertain Martinez’s side of the story.

Martinez told Andrew that he went job searching on the morning of the shooting and then came home and watched television. Initially, Martinez denied that he went anywhere else that day, but soon admitted to going to Leland Blake’s home where the shooting took place. At first, Martinez denied that anything of significance occurred at Blake’s home.

Andrew told Martinez that police already knew what happened that day.

“I’d like to know why,” Andrew said.

Martinez indicated that he drove to Blake’s, walked up to the door and knocked hard.

“She wanted drugs and I said ‘I can’t help you,’” Martinez said.

Andrew asked what happened next.

“Then I shot her,” Martinez said.

He then walked away, Martinez said.

Martinez correctly informed law enforcement of the location of the gun, which was found underneath an end table in the living room of Martinez’s residence.

The defendant affirmed with a “yeah” that he knew he was going to shoot Kershman when he arrived at Blake’s residence. He claimed she was sitting on the couch when he shot her. When police arrived at Blake’s residence, they found Kershman in a sitting position on the couch in the front room of the home.

Martinez claimed that he’d taken Kershman out in Sterling the day before the shooting where he bought a bracelet for her inscribed with “I love you.” Earlier testimony confirmed that Kershman returned the bracelet to Sidney’s Wal-Mart on the morning of July 18 for around $50 cash.

He confirmed that Blake was at the residence at the time of the shooting, but thought that he was hiding. During earlier testimony Blake claimed that he was in a back room of the home at the time of the shooting, but heard Martinez speaking and then the pop of a gunshot.

During the interview Martinez claimed that he’d received a text from Kershman at around 6 p.m. that evening saying that he should have stayed to talk. Officials confirmed that she was dead around an hour before that.

Lieutenant Keith Andrew testified for the state a second time on Wednesday. He affirmed that even though Martinez said he received a text message from Kershman after she was shot, Andrew did not find any such message in the defendant’s phone records, which were obtained as evidence.

He attested that he told Martinez to let Andrew know if he didn’t understand anything during the interview and often repeated Martinez’s answers back to him to make sure he understood what the man was saying. It did not appear to him that Martinez had difficulty hearing.

An audiologist testified for the defense on Tuesday, to inform the jury of Martinez’s significant hearing loss. She suggested that he might not have understood all the questions posed to him in the interview with police.

Later, forensic pathologist Dr. Peter Schilke informed the jury of the injuries the victim sustained shortly before her death. Schilke, of Western Pathology Consultants out of Scottsbluff performed the autopsy of Kershman’s body on July 19, 2012.

Kershman suffered a gunshot wound to the top of the right forearm which exited the back of her arm, then entered the right breast, exited the lower right breast, re-entered the abdomen and finally exited the left part of her back.

A close up photo of the entrance wound on her arm displayed in court showed that it was surrounded by black and red dots as a result of the gunpowder residue.

Internally, the bullet passed through Kershman’s kidney, an adrenal gland, her aorta, her diaphragm and between the vertebrae of her back. Schilke discovered around 2.5 liters of blood in her chest cavity.

“That’s about half of all the blood in a normal adult,” Schilke said.

He determined that Kershman had to have lived for a couple of minutes after being shot, to allow time for that much blood to pool in her chest. He added that she may not have been conscious during this period. Schilke determined that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest. He ruled the death a homicide.

She died from blood loss and possible respiratory failure, he said.

Schilke determined that because there was gunshot residue around the entrance wound on the forearm as well as some on the upper arm that it was likely that the arm was flexed and held up against the body when the shot was fired. He added that the toxicology screen was positive for the chemicals found in marijuana and at the level of the chemicals’ breakdown, she probably ingested it within four hours of death.

Schilke refused to speculate on the time of death because he said the science for such determinations included too many variables to be accurate.

The state’s next witness, Amy Weber, a firearm and tool mark examiner at the Nebraska State Patrol crime lab, testified about the evidence she examined in this case. Weber tested a glock semi automatic gun in this case, the gun found at Martinez’s residence.

She test fired the suspect gun to examine the markings the gun made on the test fired bullets and bullet casings to compare those with the bullet and casing found at the scene to determine if they were fired from the same gun.

She compares the test fired bullets and the evidentiary bullets under a microscope to see if the markings match.

“Every gun that comes off a manufacturer’s line is unique,” Weber said.

She concluded that the bullet casing found at the scene was fired from the suspected murder weapon.

The evidentiary bullet could not be included or excluded as being fired from the gun. Because of the type of rifling, or grooves on the inside of the barrel, in this particular gun, it is hard to make a definite conclusion, she said. But it’s possible that the suspected murder weapon shot the bullet found at the scene.

Weber also attempted to conduct a distance analysis on the shirt the victim was wearing at the time of her death. Both burned and unburned gunpowder come out of the muzzle when a gun is shot, she explained.

“They’re gonna come out in a defining way,” Weber said. “They’re gonna come out in a cone.”

On examination of the shirt, Weber only found a few grains of gun powder particulates on the shirt, which wasn’t enough to determine a pattern of gunshot residue which would in turn help her determine how far away the shooter was from the victim when firing the gun.

She did analyze a scale photo of the victim’s arm, which contained an entrance wound and gun powder stipling around the wound.

After conducting tests to determine the spread of gunshot residue from the particular gun and type of ammunition used in the shooting at various distances, she determined that the shooter was likely 12-21 inches from the victim when the shot was fired. Judging from the shape of the entrance wound, Weber concluded that the gun was probably held perpendicular to the victim at the time it was fired.

The court will hear closing arguments on Thursday afternoon.


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