A former Ahwatukee man whose conviction in the 2004 death of his 5-year-old son was overturned by a Superior Court judge three years ago faces re-arrest after an appeals court today shot down the judge’s actions.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said he will refile a first-degree murder charge against Jeffrey Martinson in the August 2004 drug overdose death of his son, Joshua Eberle-Martinson.
This will mark the third time Martinson will face charges in his son’s death in a case that has had a number of legal twists and turns.
Martinson had a scheduled weekend visitation with his son. When her son was not returned to her Sunday evening, the child’s mother called police to check on Martinson’s Ahwatukee apartment.
Police discovered Martinson lying on his bed, unresponsive with his wrists cut. In another room they found the boy dead and a toxicology report later found evidence of a lethal amount of muscle relaxant in the child’s blood.
Prosecutors initially filed first-degree murder charges against Martinson, contending he deliberately killed the boy because he was upset with his visitation schedule and hated the child’s mother. He was not married to her.
But the Judge Sally Duncan first barred prosecutors from arguing the murder was premeditated.
Martinson was convicted by a jury in 2011.
But Duncan interviewed jurors and concluded that some of the panel had committed misconduct, so she voided the verdict.
In jail since his arrest in 2004, Martinson was arrested a second time. But in 2013, just as he was about to go on trial, Duncan set him free.
The judge accused the county attorney’s office of prosecutorial conduct and barred it from ever prosecuting Martinson in the murder case again.
Although a copy of the decision was not immediately available, Montgomery’s office said in a press release, “The Court of Appeals found that the trial judge’s rulings that precluded evidence of intent to kill was erroneous and vacated the trial judge’s dismissal of the case. The ruling… allows the Count Attorney to file new charges.”
“Today’s order validates the State’s contention that evidence of premeditation should have been allowed in the original trial,” said Montgomery. “We will now be able to go forward to seek justice for the young victim and his mother.”