Jury selection begins in Martin case

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

Jury selection began Tuesday in the case of a Turners Station man facing multiple charges related to unlawful sex with a minor.

Joseph David Martin, 39, of Turners Station is on trial for 14 counts of 1st degree unlawful transaction with a minor, illegal sex act, victim under 16; use of a minor under age 16 in a sexual performance; and 14 counts of incest, forcible compulsion, victim incapable of consent or under the age of 18.

In a hearing last week, the Commonwealth asked the court to join those charges with a third indictment, from March of this year, in which Martin was indicted for complicity to tampering with a witness and complicity to tampering with physical evidence.

It was not yet clear if the third indictment would be joined with the previous charges, as the Commonwealth requested in a hearing last week.

That preliminary hearing last week focused primarily on computer evidence, which the defense argued should be suppressed.

In a highly technical hearing, Commonwealth’s Attorney Courtney Baxter, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Barry Baxter, and Defense Attorney Harley Blankenship sifted through the details of forensic collection of computer evidence.

The Commonwealth seized Martin’s computer and two external harddrives, after letters in which he purportedly told his mother that his wife, Tina, “needs to give you those external harddrives. Take the black garbage bag under the bed and take it somewhere where nobody can find it.”

As a result of that letter, the Commonwealth utilized a search warrant, and while examining the computer evidence, found possible child pornography.

Courtney Baxter indicated in last week’s hearing that the Commonwealth did not intend to use any of the images at trial, but that federal charges could be pending from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Blankenship argued that the Commonwealth had not given him or the defendant access to the forensic evidence, a point Baxter contested.

Blankenship, along with a defense computer expert, had an opportunity to view the evidence at the state forensics lab in Louisville, but did not examine it.

During the hearing, the defense expert indicated he had little to no experience with the forensic software used.

Circuit Court Judge Karen Conrad ordered that the forensic evidence  be made available to Blankeship and his expert the next day, so that they could review the state’s evidence.

In another letter, available in Martin’s case file, Martin allegedly asks his mother to talk to the victim. “Don’t mention my name but tell (identity withheld) to say she wants (me) home... she needs to start telling everyone-therapist, social workers that nothing happened. A letter from her would be great. Just be careful. We should have plenty of time now... we just need something on paper somehow.”

Baxter indicated during the hearing that in addition to written evidence, phone calls from Martin to outside sources point to the alleged tampering charges.

Martin was arrested in October 2011 and charged with second and third degree rape, second degree sodomy, and first degre sexual abuse.

At the time, Martin allegedly brought a written confession to Kentucky State Police Post 5 Detective Tim Moore.

According to Moore’s citation, Martin allegedly admitted to having sex with the victim multiple times over a 3.5 year period, and signed a rights waiver before the interview, and “brought a written statement outlining the sexual acts” allegedly committed.

Jury selection was expected to take most of the day Tuesday.