Murder suspect takes plea

Martin

TUSCUMBIA — Colbert County prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed that after four hours of jury deliberations, negotiating a plea agreement in the Brian Lansing Martin murder trial was the best course of action for everyone involved.

Martin, 32, accepted a 10-year prison sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to manslaughter in the May 11, 2011, shooting death of his father, Donice "Boo Boo" Scott.

Scott, 51, was shot once in the chest with a .40-caliber Glock pistol during a struggle with Martin outside Scott's residence at 1011 E. Second St., Tuscumbia. Scott was pronounced dead a short time later at Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield.

Based on testimony during the five-day trial, the shooting stemmed from an argument between Martin and Scott over $1,120 that Scott reportedly owed Martin.

Martin was indicted on a murder charge, which carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

A jury of six men and six women deliberated more than four hours Friday before the deal was struck.

"We feel the jury would have rendered a verdict of murder or manslaughter, but we didn't want a hung jury," District Attorney Bryce Graham Jr. said.

Graham said Martin also waived his right to probation and his right to an appeal.

With Martin standing between his attorneys, Billy Underwood and Jeff Barksdale, Circuit Judge Hal Hughston informed Martin that he must turn himself in at the Colbert County Jail on Feb. 15 to begin serving his sentence.

Martin will remain free on bond, but Hughston said he must be fitted for an ankle monitor.

"We consider this a win under the circumstances," Graham said. "I'm proud of our office and the hard work they put into it. The defense attorneys did a good job trying the case, too."

Assistant District Attorney Angela Hulsey, who assisted Graham, said she was pleased with the plea agreement.

"I hope this can bring some resolution to all the parties in this case and help everyone move forward," Hulsey said.

The jury began its deliberations about 1:27 p.m. and were still in deliberations at 5:30 p.m. when the plea agreement was offered.

"We were thinking of the possibility that it was a hung jury," Underwood said. "The district attorney's office made us a fair offer."

Underwood said it's possible that Martin could be released from prison in just more than three years.

"Jeff Barksdale and I spoke to him and told him what his chances were," Underwood said. "Jeff and I are disappointed, but under the circumstances this is the best thing for all parties concerned."

Underwood also praised prosecutors.

"This was an extremely emotional case," Barksdale said. "Both sides laid out all they had."

According to testimony, Martin had started to interact with his father for about three years before the shooting occurred.

Scott's oldest brother, Billy Scott, thanked the Tuscumbia Police Department and the sheriff's department for their work in the case.

Scott said the case was tough for both sides of the family.

"My nephew killed his daddy," Scott said. "(Martin) could have done things a lot differently. Now my nephew is going to prison. Both sides are hurting."

Members of Martin's family declined to comment.

Billy Scott said Martin has two children, as did his younger brother.

"These kids are hurting," Scott said. "There are no winners in this."

During closing arguments Friday morning, Underwood spent more than 45 minutes attempting to convince jurors that Martin's actions were in self-defense.

"He is not guilty of murder," Underwood told the jury. "He is not guilty of manslaughter. This was self-defense."

Underwood emphasized the shooting was unintentional. Graham and Hulsey argued that the shooting was intentional.

During her closing statement, Hulsey said Martin demonstrated intent by going to Scott's residence three times the day of the shooting to collect the debt. The third time he came with a loaded pistol, she said.

Hulsey said it was an intentional act when Martin pulled the pistol on Scott, racked the pistol and pulled the trigger.

"You don't unintentionally rack a Glock 40," Hulsey said. "That's an intentional act. The defendant's intention is clear."

Graham argued that parts of the defendant's story were concocted, including audio recordings Martin made with a cellphone of his final encounter with his father.

"Don't let him get away with murder," Graham told jurors. "They're trying to pull one on you."

A juror outside the courthouse said she did not want to comment on the deliberations.

Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.

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