19 year old college student, Christina Burgin, was last seen alive
leaving a lounge with Martin on June 20, 1991.
Her decomposed body was found nearly two weeks later in a pumphouse
in the rural Louisiana town. She had been choked with a rope, her
throat cut, her eyes gouged out, and she finally was killed by
someone who jumped up and down on a board placed across her neck.
Martin had previous convictions from age 14 and was on parole for an
aggravated rape charge. In 1984, Martin had raped his own 14-year-old
sister at knifepoint while their mother was in the hospital. He was
sentenced to 10 years but served only five.
Martin had repeatedly made statements that he would never go back to
prison and killed Christina so she would "not complain."
Martin and three other inmates briefly escaped from death row in
November 1999. Authorities said the 4 condemned men used smuggled
hacksaw blades to cut their way through their cell doors. Prison
chase teams caught them about 2 miles from their cells.
State v. Martin, 645 So.2d 190 (La. 1994) (Direct Appeal)
Martin v. Louisiana, 115 S.Ct. 2252 (1995) (Cert. Denied).
Martin v. Cain, 206 F.3d 450 (5th Cir. 2000) (Habeas).
Boiled crawfish, crawfish stew, a garden salad with Italian dressing,
oatmeal cookies and whole milk with chocolate syrup.
Martin declines to make a final statement before execution.
Martin (April 24, 1967 –
May 10, 2002) was an American murderer. He was
convicted and later executed for the rape and murder
of Christina Burgin. Martin was the most recent
person executed in the state of Louisiana.
On June 20, 1991, Martin and
Michael Roland went to the 12th Street Lounge in
Lake Charles at about 11:00 p.m., after playing pool
and drinking beer for about two hours. The victim, a
college student and part-time employee at a pizza
outlet, also went to the lounge between 11:00 p.m.
and midnight with some of her friends. Martin and
the victim met through Roland, who had known the
victim previously. During the evening, the victim
danced with Martin, while each shared beverages and
companionship with other friends in the lounge.
About 1:30 a.m. the next morning,
after Roland and most of the victim's friends had
left the lounge, the victim asked Martin for a ride
home, and Martin agreed. No one ever saw the victim
About 7:30 a.m., Martin visited
Leo Guimbellot, his carpentry supervisor on a recent
job, and stated he had met a blonde college student
the night before, left the lounge with her and woke
up on Galveston Beach not knowing where he was.
Martin's clothes were dirty, and he pointed to vomit
in his ashtray, stating, "I guess the bitch threw up
in my truck."
When Martin returned to his
aunt's home, where he was residing at the time, he
was wearing different pants than he wore at the time
he left the previous evening, and he had no shirt or
shoes. He washed his clothes and his truck seat
cover, telling his aunt that they got muddy when he
engaged in mud slinging with Roland. Martin also had
scratches on his chest and back, a bite mark on his
shoulder, and a tear under his tongue. He told his
cousin he had fought with a "country boy" in the
The same morning, Martin told
Huey Rushing that he thought he may have killed
someone the previous evening and asked Rushing to
provide him with an alibi by saying he had spent the
night at Rushing's home. Rushing refused, and Martin
told him that on the way back to Lake Charles the
woman threatened to report him for rape.
Martin talked about a shed in
Iowa, a town in Calcasieu Parish, and related that
he had put a rope around the girl's neck, choked
her, cut her throat, dug her eyes out, and jumped up
and down on a wooden board placed across her neck.
In response to a question, Martin asserted that he
did not want to be turned in for rape again. In
1984, Martin had raped his own 14-year-old sister at
knifepoint while their mother was in the hospital.
He was sentenced to 10 years for sexual battery but
served only five.
Rushing related Martin's story to
his girlfriend, but they deemed it unreal until
Rushing heard nine days later that a girl was
missing after leaving the 12th Street Lounge.
Rushing reported the story to the police, who found
the victim's decomposing body in a search of sheds
in the Iowa area. The police found a rope around her
neck and a wooden board nearby which contained human
blood. The police then obtained a warrant and
Martin was indicted by a Grand
Jury for first degree murder and brought to trial.
At the trial, Rushing, Guimbellot and Roland
testified to the facts stated above. Other testimony
was provided by inmates with whom defendant was
incarcerated after his arrest.
Robert Williamson testified that
Martin stated he left the lounge with the victim,
drove to a side road past Iowa and had sex with the
highly-intoxicated victim. When the victim accused
him of taking advantage of her, he feared a return
to the penitentiary, and he pulled her from the
truck and strangled her, but had difficulty killing
her. Martin disclosed that he had revealed the
incident to a friend with whom he had "done time",
and the friend had betrayed him to the authorities.
Michael Fontenot, who was also
incarcerated with Martin, testified that he stated
the victim asked for a ride home from the lounge,
and he took her on a dirt road where he had sex with
her after removing her tampon which she later
reinserted. When she accused him of rape during the
ride back, he pulled over near Iowa and strangled
her until she passed out. When she resumed breathing,
defendant strangled her with a rope and dragged her
to a shed, where he left her. His friend told the
police "where he put the body and everything".
Marlin Sweet was a cellmate that
Martin had known some years earlier. Martin related
to Sweet the events of the evening of the murder,
stating that he wanted to have sex with the victim,
but that she refused because of her menstrual period.
Martin said he "had to have her" and "overpowered
her", although she resisted and fought back.
When the victim became hysterical
after the sexual encounter and threatened to go to
the police, he decided he was not going back to
prison for "nobody". He choked her, first with his
hands and then with a rope. She did not die, however,
and he put a wooden board across her neck and jumped
on it two or three times. Martin then cut out her
eyes with a knife so that she could not identify him.
There was little physical
evidence presented by the prosecution because of the
condition of the body. However, human blood was
found on defendant's pants and truck seat cover, as
well as on the wooden board recovered near the body.
After the completion of the
evidence in the guilt phase of the bifurcated trial,
the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty as
charged. In the penalty phase, the prosecution
relied on the evidence presented in the guilt phase.
The defense presented mitigating evidence by a
psychiatrist and members of defendant's family. The
jury unanimously recommended the death penalty and
Martin was later sentenced to the same by the judge.
On May 10, 2002, Martin was
executed at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola
by lethal injection. His last meal was boiled
crawfish, crawfish stew, a garden salad with Italian
dressing, oatmeal cookies and whole milk with
chocolate syrup. He did not make a statement before
Murder Victim's Parents ‘Ecstatic' Over 1st La.
Execution in 2 years
By Gwen Filosa - New Orleans Times
May 11, 2002
ANGOLA -- The first convict to be executed in
Louisiana in almost two years died of lethal injection Friday night
for the 1991 rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman in Lake Charles.
Leslie Dale Martin, 35, was pronounced dead at 8:16 p.m. in the
Louisiana State Penitentiary's death chamber. The parents of
Christina Burgin, whose body was found in a rice field pumphouse 11
years ago, were among the witnesses.
"My smile says it all. That's it," her father,
Charles Burgin, told reporters within minutes of Martin's death.
Burgin's mother, Diane Godeaux, said she was "ecstatic." When one of
Martin's attorneys, Clive Stafford-Smith, appeared to speak, the
Burgin family marched out of the room. "He is very sorry for what
happened," Stafford-Smith said. "We are all better than the worst
thing we've ever done."
Martin, born in Shreveport, became the 27th
convict put to death in Louisiana since the penalty was reinstated
in 1979, and the 27th person executed in the United States this year.
"No comment," Martin said before his death. Witnesses said he also
mouthed the words, "You're fired," to his attorney.
His death came the day after the state of
Maryland suspended all executions pending a study of whether the
ultimate penalty is unfairly applied to black people, and almost 24
hours after an Alabama woman died in the state's electric chair for
the 1993 murder of a small-town police sergeant. Louisiana's last
execution was June 6, 2000, the only one that year.
Martin's attorneys, Stafford-Smith and Denise
LeBoeuf, filed a storm of appeals in recent weeks. One was a
petition accusing Gov. Mike Foster of uniformly ignoring appeals for
clemency from violent felons, which a Baton Rouge judge denied
Martin never applied for a pardon review, a process his
attorneys call a sham. He had received five stays of execution since
his conviction in 1992, the most recent coming Feb. 9 from the U.S.
Supreme Court, about 30 minutes from the time the prison expected
the execution to begin. The court later refused to hear the case.
Protests were planned Friday night at Angola, at
the Louisiana Supreme Court in New Orleans and at the Governor's
Mansion in Baton Rouge. The Moratorium Campaign, based in New
Orleans and led by Sister Helen Prejean, demanded a reprieve for
Martin all week, but the call drew no substantive political support.
Burgin was killed June 20, 1991, after leaving a
bar with Martin. Prosecutors said Martin raped and stabbed Burgin,
and then jumped on a board placed over her neck and gouged out her
eyes. She was identified by dental records. Martin admitted killing
Burgin, but said it happened during a drunken argument that arose
after they had consensual sex. He always denied raping her, the
element that made it a death penalty case.
On Friday at about 4:45 p.m., Martin ate his last
meal: boiled crawfish, crawfish stew, a garden salad with Italian
dressing, oatmeal cookies and whole milk with chocolate syrup. His
mother and sister visited with him earlier, leaving at 3:30 p.m.
Martin, who studied Buddhism, spent his final hours with his
spiritual adviser, Paula Emanuel, who lives in the Netherlands. "My
opinion is any criminal has been many, many times a victim before,"
she said Friday night. "But I know it doesn't count in this
On death row, Martin spent 23 hours a day in a
single-man cell. He had said that he would rather die by lethal
injection than live the rest of his days in prison with "the
irrational hope of freedom." Martin had been imprisoned before.
About 15 months before Burgin was killed, Martin was released after
serving time for a 1984 sexual battery on his 14-year-old sister.
Since 1991, Martin had glimpsed his freedom only once in a brief
escape from death row, a first for Angola.
In the prison museum outside the main gate, an
exhibit documents his role in the 1999 breakout of four condemned
inmates. He and his cohorts were caught within hours. On the
adjacent wall of the museum hang a series of picture frames
displaying mug shots of the 26 men executed by Louisiana since the
state brought back the death penalty in 1979. Ninety men and one
woman remain on the state's death row.
Condemned Killer Meets Death, Extends No Apology
By James Minton - The Baton Rouge Advocate
May 11, 2002
ANGOLA -- Condemned killer Leslie Dale Martin
went to his death Friday night for the rape and murder of a 19-year-old
McNeese State University coed. Before facing the executioner's
needles, Martin offered no public apology for the slaying, Louisiana
State Penitentiary Warden Burl Cain said. Cain said Martin, 35, was
pronounced dead at 8:16 p.m.
A Calcasieu Parish jury sentenced Martin to death
for the June 20, 1991, rape and murder of Christina Burgin, 19, who
was last seen leaving a Lake Charles bar with Martin. Her
decomposing body was found nearly two weeks later in a shed near
Iowa, in Calcasieu Parish.
His victim's mother and father witnessed the
execution, Louisiana's 27th since the death penalty was reinstated
in 1979 and the first since June 2000.
"I'm ecstatic. I'm happy,"
Burgin's mother, Diane Godeaux, said during a post-execution news
conference. "My smile says it all," said the victim's father,
Charles Burgin. Burgin and Godeaux abruptly left the room when one
of Martin's attorneys, Clive Stafford-Smith of New Orleans, said his
client was "indeed sorry for everything" that has happened. "I don't
want people left with the conclusion that he was cold and
calculating," the attorney said as the victim's parents left. "I'm
very sorry everyone feels that way and can't see beyond the worst
thing we ever did," Stafford-Smith said.
Prosecutors said Martin, after raping Burgin,
choked her with a rope, cut her throat, gouged out her eyes and
jumped up and down on a board placed across her neck. They said
Martin blinded his victim to prevent her from identifying him if she
survived. Cain said he asked Martin at one point if he wanted to
offer any comments to the witnesses. "No, there's no point in
commenting to anybody else," Cain quoted Martin as saying.
The Moratorium Group, a New Orleans-based
organization chaired by death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean,
called for rallies Friday evening at several locations across the
state to protest the execution.
The group pointed to Thursday's
decision by Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening to suspend all
executions in that state until the University of Maryland completes
a study to determine whether racial or geographical bias figures in
death sentences. "I would hope our governor recognizes the very same
problems exist here in Louisiana," Prejean said in a statement
Stafford-Smith, won last-minute clearance Friday
to witness the execution, but he wasn't Martin's first choice for a
familiar face in the witness room. Martin asked Thursday that an
investigator on his legal team be allowed to witness his final
moments, but Corrections Secretary Richard Stalder turned down the
request. The denial resulted in a flurry of legal filings and a
hearing Friday morning before U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola in
Stalder testified the law allows no more than
seven people to be present for an execution, and Martin waited too
late to make his request because the seats in the witness room had
been allotted. Polozola gave the attorneys a few minutes to resolve
the dispute outside of court. "I'm not going to micromanage who gets
an invitation and who doesn't," the judge said. After a brief
meeting, the attorneys returned to court with a compromise --
Stafford-Smith, but not the investigator -- would be given a seat
that had been assigned to Assistant Corrections Secretary Johnny
Cain said Martin ate his last meal consisting of
boiled crawfish, crawfish stew, garden salad, cookies and chocolate
milk at 4:45 p.m. after saying good-bye to his mother and sister
about an hour earlier. "They visited with him all day, and I
extended the visit by an hour. They were more calm than last time,"
Cain said during a news conference before the execution.
Martin joked with his Buddhist spiritual adviser about peeling
crawfish during the meal. Martin sat on the floor of his holding
cell to have an unobstructed view of his spiritual adviser though an
opening for meal trays in his cell door, the warden said.
Martin had a date with death on Feb. 8, but U.S.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia halted the execution about 20
minutes before Martin was scheduled to enter the death chamber at
Angola's Camp F. The high court decided in March, however, not to
hear his case.
The temporary stay of execution was Martin's fifth,
and followed attempts by his attorneys to discredit the testimony of
a witness they called a "jailhouse snitch." The witness, Marlin
Sweet, testified that Martin confessed to him that Martin raped and
A document turned over to defense attorneys in
February showed that Sweet had been diagnosed as a "pathological
liar" at the time of Martin's trial. Former prosecutor Patricia
Minaldi, now a state district judge, said in February that the
defense attorneys failed to mention that Martin told a friend that
Burgin accused him of raping her and "that's why he killed her."
Louisiana law allows the death penalty only when there are certain
aggravating circumstances in a murder. In Martin's case, it was the
commission of a rape.
In November 1999, Martin and three other
condemned men rocked Angola when they escaped from their cells and
the building that houses Louisiana's Death Row. After officers found
them missing, an Angola chase team and a bloodhound tracked them
down in a swampy area of the prison grounds near the Mississippi
Cain blamed the security lapse on a guard who accepted a
bribe to smuggle hacksaw blades to the inmates and inattention by
other officers who should have noticed the men cutting their cell
doors and a window during a two- to three-week period. No one was
prosecuted because of the incident, however.
In January, two guards reported hearing Martin
and another inmate discussing a possible escape attempt, including
the taking of hostages, Cain said. Cain immediately ordered Martin's
transfer to the death chamber holding cell at Camp F, which is
several miles from the Death Row building at the prison's front gate.
Editor's note: Staff writer Michelle Millhollon
contributed to this report.
Convicted Killer Executed for 1991 Murder
Vincent Lupo and Sonny Marks - Lake Charles Press
May 11, 2002
ANGOLA -- Leslie Dale Martin was executed here
Friday, nearly 10 years after he was convicted of raping and killing
a McNeese student he met at a bar. Martin, 35, was declared dead at
8:16 p.m. He was intravenously injected with a combination of three
drugs designed to put him to sleep, stop his breathing and then stop
He told Warden Burl Cain something directed at
Martin's attorney, Clive Stafford-Smith: "You're fired." Martin said
it "kind of light and funny," Cain said. Martin "was calm, collected,
and his demeanor was OK," he said. "He showed very little reaction."
Cain told him he always tells the condemned: "Be ready to see Jesus'
face." When the injections began, Martin said to Cain, "When am I
going to feel something? I don't feel anything." "You're going to
feel sleepy in just a minute," Cain told him. Martin left his
glasses on until minutes before he died. Cain said Martin wanted to
see the witnesses and his spiritual adviser, humanist Paula Emanuel
from the Nether-lands.
Emanuel said after the execution, "Any criminal
has been many times a victim before." The parents of murder victim
Christina Burgin witnessed the execution. Both smiled at the news
conference afterward. "I'm just happy," her mother, Diane Godeaux of
Lake Charles, said. "My smile says it all," said Burgin's father,
Charles Burgin of Lake Charles. "My smile is all I've got to say.
I'm finished with him." The parents stood up and left the room as
Stafford-Smith stepped to the microphone.
"(Martin) did ask me to say some things, and one
was that he is indeed very sorry for what happened. And so am I very
sorry for what everyone has gone through," he said. "But I don't
want people to be left with the impression that this is somehow
someone who is cold and calculating. "We are all better than the
worst things we ever did in our lives. I'm very sorry that everyone
feels that way and can't see past the worst thing each of us ever
Last-minute efforts to halt the execution failed
-- unlike Feb. 8, when Martin won a reprieve from the U.S. Supreme
Court less than 30 minutes before he was scheduled to die.
witnesses watched last night as Martin breathed his last. At 4:45
p.m., he ate his last meal -- boiled crawfish, crawfish stew,
toasted French bread, garden salad with Italian dressing, banana-nut-oatmeal
cookies, and whole milk with chocolate syrup.
His "last meal" in
February, on his previous execution date, included king crab and
gumbo. This time, as last time, he ate a lot, Cain said. "His
demeanor was good. He smiled a lot," Cain said.
Martin sat on the floor in the air-conditioned
room so he could view his spiritual adviser clearly, without bars in
the way. They spoke to each other through the slot where the plate
is inserted. He and Emanuel were allowed no physical contact during
Two correctional officers were with Martin. He and Cain
peeled crawfish for Emanuel, who "couldn't believe we were eating
crawfish," Cain said. Her incredulity produced a laugh from Martin.
His mother, Trisha Martin of Shreveport, and a sister were with him
until 3:30 p.m. Cain said he allowed them to spend 30 more minutes
with him before they were asked to leave. They waited outside the
front gates to listen for word of his death.
7:45 p.m. -- The 13 witnesses are led to the
death house. The viewing room is divided into two segments by a wall
and a sliding door. Members of the victim's family and a Lake
Charles TV news reporter are among witnesses on one side. Martin's
attorney, the West Feliciana Parish coroner and two print media
reporters are included on the other.
7:50 p.m -- Richard Stalder, secretary of the
Department of Public Safety and Corrections, hands documents to
Martin's attorney, Clive Stafford-Smith. The paperwork indicates the
U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to halt the execution.
7:52 p.m. -- Similar paperwork is handed to a
representative of Gov. Mike Foster. The representative is also a
witness to the execution.
7:58 p.m. -- Martin is led into the death chamber.
His spiritual adviser joins Stafford-Smith in the witness room. As
10 straps are used to tether Martin to the gurney, laughter and loud
talking can be heard from the family's side. The mood on the other
side is somber and subdued. Stafford-Smith and spiritual adviser
Paula Emanuel embrace each other, hold hands and, at times, wipe
away tears. Martin is seen mouthing inaudible words to Emanuel.
8 p.m. -- The window curtain dividing the
witnesses and the death chamber is closed to maintain the anonymity
of the medical technicians who install the intravenous devices.
8:05 p.m. -- The curtain is opened. Martin speaks
frequently with Warden Burl Cain, who remains at his head the entire
time. The words cannot be heard by the witnesses. Sound is only
turned on if Martin has any official last words, and he declines to
make a statement. Martin has a monitor clipped to his finger and
tubes running into his wrist and stomach. He is dressed in a white
T-shirt and white pants with prison-issued slippers. Several minutes
after Martin's chest stops rising and falling, his face and hands
turn blue. Cain gets the flat-line signal from monitors. The warden
signals for the coroner to enter the death chamber.
8:16 p.m. -- Both the coroner and the medical
director of the prison check Martin's chest and neck with a
stethoscope. They pull his eyelids up. They declare over the
microphone that Martin is officially dead.
The body is sent from the death chamber to the
prison morgue, where it will be held overnight. Martin's family will
get the body Saturday. Cain says they intend to cremate the body.
A man convicted of raping and killing a 19-year-old
college student in 1991 was executed by injection Friday night.
Leslie Martin, 35, made no final statement but,
after the drugs were injected, could be seen mouthing the words "You're
fired," to his defense attorney who watched the execution. The
lawyer, Clive Stafford-Smith, later said Martin's remarks were part
of a long-running joke between the two.
Martin was convicted in 1992 of killing Christina
Burgin, a student at McNeese State University in Lake Charles. She
was last seen alive leaving a lounge with Martin on June 20, 1991.
Her decomposed body was found nearly two weeks later in a pumphouse
in the rural southwestern Louisiana town of Iowa.
Prosecutors said Martin raped Burgin and then
strangled her to keep her from turning him in.
Lake Charles Press
February 08, 2001
In Lake Charles, lawyers for
a man set to die this week for raping and killing a 19-year-old
woman in 1991 say they have new evidence to discredit the jailhouse
"snitch" who testified against him.
Leslie Dale Martin is scheduled to die Friday for
the death of Christina Burgin after she left a lounge with him on
June 20, 1991. Prosecutors said she was choked with a rope, her
throat cut, her eyes dug out, and she finally was killed by someone
who jumped up and down on a board placed across her neck.
Attorney Clive Stafford-Smith of the New Orleans-based
Louisiana Crisis Assistance Center said Wednesday that he found new
evidence in papers which the Calcasieu Parish district attorney gave
Stafford-Smith said documents found in a file on an unrelated
murder case indicate that inmate Marlin Sweet, who testified against
Martin, was undergoing mental health evaluations and was believed to
be a sociopath. Sweet also was supposed to testify in the other case
but the defendant, who was charged with 1st-degree murder, pleaded
guilty to obstruction of justice and accessory to murder after the
District Attorney Rick Bryant said the evidence
in question, which has existed since 1991, was never turned over to
defense lawyers because prosecutors did not know about it until
several months after Martin's May 1992 conviction.
argued that the file was not relevant, but Stafford-Smith said it
relates to the credibility of the witness. State District Judge Mike
Canaday agreed to consider the defense request for a new hearing on
the question of whether District Attorney Rick Bryant should be
ordered out of the case.
Canaday had already rejected a motion to get rid
of Bryant on Tuesday. That challenge, like the one Wednesday, was
based on discrediting Sweet. The hearing was expected to continue
Thursday, which a records custodian being subpoenaed to testify on
when authorities and prosecutors should have known about Sweet's
mental health evaluation.
The legal flurry to block Martin's execution
centered on the courts after Gov. Mike Foster said he would not step
in to cancel the death sentence. The ACLU had asked for clemency,
saying there is no reliable evidence to support the rape conviction
and that it is the only aggravating factor which makes the killing a
Foster "is not going to grant clemency, based on the
fact that this case has made it through the long and winding legal
process," deputy press secretary Steven Johnston said.
the governor disagreed with the American Civil Liberties Union's
contention that the legal process in this case was flawed, Johnston
would say only, "He's relying on the findings of the legal process,
particularly the state Supreme Court." "There is no direct physical
evidence that the rape occurred," the ACLU letter said. "The only
evidence of this additional aggravating crime is the testimony of a
Under Louisiana law, a murder conviction can lead
to the death penalty only if there are aggravating circumstances
such as another felony. On Tuesday, District Judge Mike Canaday
denied 3 attempts to keep Martin off of the execution gurney, saying
they brought up nothing new. Another lawyer filed a 4th motion,
which which was denied Wednesday. The new challenge, filed by Denise
LeBoeuf of the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana in New
Orleans, said Louisiana's Pardon Board is so biased toward victims
that Martin has no hope of clemency.
Governor Foster Asked to Stay Execution of Leslie
The American Civil Liberties Union urges you to
grant clemency to Leslie Dale Martin. He is scheduled to be executed
on February 8th. The relief that we request on his behalf is
warranted because there is no reliable evidence to support the sole
aggravating factor upon which this death sentence is based.
Unsubstantiated Aggravating Crime
Mr. Martin was sentenced to die because he
allegedly committed rape in connection with murder. Yet there is no
direct physical evidence that the rape occurred. The only evidence
of this additional aggravating crime is the testimony of a jailhouse
Snitch-testimony has been demonstrated to be
notoriously unreliable. It has been found to be a factor in 21% of
wrongful conviction that were later overturned due to exonerating
DNA. Here such testimony, with no corroborating evidence, is the
sole basis upon which Mr. Martin has been sentenced to die.
Louisiana law defines first-degree murder as “the
killing of a human being when the offender has specific intent to
kill, or to inflict great bodily harm, and is engaged in the
perpetration or attempted perpetration of…aggravated rape…” Without
the commission of another aggravated felony, resulting in the
intentional death of the victim, an offender can only be convicted
of second-degree murder, which is punishable by life with no
possibility of parole.
Had Mr. Martin’s been allowed at trial to present
an adequate defense, these issues would have received a fuller
hearing and a more appropriate conviction and sentence. However, Mr.
Martin did not receive the adequate representation at trial. His
lead attorney was appointed only three weeks before the trial date.
Then, he spent most of that time seeking a postponement of the trial
so that he could prepare to represent Mr. Martin. Mr. Martin’s other
lawyer spent only a week and a half preparing a defense and had
little criminal, let alone death penalty, experience.
The Louisiana Supreme Court itself stated that
the trial judge should have granted more time, to ensure that Mr.
Martin received a fair trial. Nevertheless, they did not find that
Mr. Martin was entitled to relief.
It now falls to this clemency process and to you
to do justice. There is a very serious question presented concerning
the appropriateness and lawfulness of the death sentence that the
state of Louisiana is poised to impose. This is the forum of last
resort that must determine whether, on balance, this death sentence
deserves our confidence, and we respectfully submit that it does not.
In the interest of fairness, we ask that you
grant Mr. Martin a reprieve, refer his case for review to a properly
constituted Pardon Board, and consider commuting his death sentence
to life without possibility of parole.
Respectfully, Diann Rust-Tierney - Joe Cook
State prison officials are taking no chances with
Leslie Dale Martin, a 1-time escapee who faces a Feb. 8 execution
for a murder in Calcasieu Parish. Burl Cain, warden of the state
penitentiary at Angola, said Martin has already been moved to the
prison's death house, 5 miles from the prison gates.
He had been in
one of the death row cells, where condemned prisoners are usually
held, which are closer to prison gates. Those facing execution
usually are moved to the death house on the day of execution or a
few days before.
Martin was moved on Jan. 9, nearly a month before
his execution date, Cain said. Cain said 2 death row corrections
officers had overheard Martin talking with another inmate about an
escape attempt, including the possibility of taking hostages and
trying to commandeer a vehicle to ram through the prison gates. "He
was plotting an escape, how he was going to take hostages and what
he was going to do to the hostages," Cain said. "So we moved him to
a place where he wouldn't have access to hostages." He was put in a
cell near the room where he will be put to death by lethal injection,
where he has only a guard to talk to. "We're treating him good, in a
little cell block of his own," Cain said.
Were Martin to try to escape, it would be his 2nd
attempt. He and 3 other inmates briefly escaped from death row in
November 1999. Authorities said the 4 condemned men used smuggled
hacksaw blades to cut their way through their cell doors and a steel-barred
window during a 2 to 3-week period prior to the escape.
teams caught them about 2 miles from their cells. "They had paid a
corrections officer to bring them blades," Cain said Tuesday. He
said 2 guards were fired and 2 demoted following the escape. Martin
is in excellent physical health, Cain said.
However, the warden was unsure how Martin will
behave on execution day. Cain said he often helps prepare condemned
prisoners for execution by discussing religion with them. That
usually means talking about Christianity and the soul. Not with
Martin. "He's a member of the Buddhist religion," Cain said. "It's
harder for us to communicate with him ... I'm actually getting a
quick lesson in Buddhism."
Martin raped and strangled Christina Burgin, 19,
after meeting her at a Lake Charles bar while he was playing pool
with friends on the night of June 20, 1991, according to court
Martin offered Christina a ride home and she was beaten,
choked, and her throat was cut. Martin also gouged her eyes out, put
a board on her neck and jumped up and down on it, then left her body
in a shed. The body was not found until July and was so badly
decomposed that identification was almost impossible.
Martin had previous convictions from age 14 and
was on parole for an aggravated rape charge. In 1984, Martin had
raped his own 14-year-old sister at knifepoint while their mother
was in the hospital.
He was sentenced to 10 years but served only
five. Martin had repeatedly made statements that he would never go
back to prison and killed Christina so she would "not complain."
Louisiana Execution Stopped by U.S. Supreme
North County Times
February 9, 2002
ANGOLA, La. (AP) ---- The U.S. Supreme Court
halted the execution of a Louisiana inmate Friday night less than a
half-hour before he was scheduled to die. Warden Burl Cain told
inmate Leslie Martin and witnesses that the justices had blocked the
execution so they can consider whether to hear Martin's appeal.
prisoner was a little bit stunned, a little bit shocked," Cain said.
He said Martin, a Buddhist, was sitting on the floor of his cell
with his spiritual adviser when he got word of the stay.
Martin, 34, was convicted of raping, killing and
mutilating 19-year-old Christina Burgin in Lake Charles in 1991. Her
parents were among witnesses at the prison.
Appeals centered on several issues, including
Martin's claim that prosecutors had no physical evidence of rape --
an important element since rape was an aggravating factor which
backed up the death sentence under Louisiana law.
Clive Stafford-Smith has also challenged testimony that Martin
confessed to another inmate while in jail. Prosecutors said Martin
choked the victim, cut her throat, gouged her eyes out, put a board
on her neck and jumped up and down on it, then left her body in a
Victim's Family Awaits New Date for Martin's
February 10, 2002
"I swear to God, we're going to get him," Charles
Burgin said yesterday, a day after Leslie Dale Martin's execution
Martin was scheduled to die for killing Burgin's
daughter, Christina, 11 years ago. Martin was convicted of raping,
strangling and killing the 19-year-old after they met at a Lake
Charles bar. Burgin's eyes were gouged. Her killer put a board on
her neck and jumped on it.
Charles Burgin arrived at the Louisiana State
Penitentiary at 3 p.m. Friday with his family. Burgin, president of
Louisiana Fasteners in Lake Charles, said he was not prepared for
guards to take his wireless phone, tape recorder, heart medication
and maps before he could enter the prison gates. "I'm the boss. I'm
the top man. I have my lieutenants," he said. "For me to be checked
like I was, it just surprised me."
The execution was scheduled for around 6:30 p.m.
Burgin said it was 6:06 p.m. when Warden Burl Cain went in the
family room to inform them of the stay. Burgin's wife and daughter
cried. The family left Angola immediately. Burgin said they got back
to their North Tamela Drive home at 9:33 p.m. He didn't sleep
Saturday night. "This has hardened my heart even more," he said. "I
have no sympathy whatsoever for neither (Martin) nor his family. I
want him dead. If you've ever seen a shining smile, you'll see one
on the day he's finally executed. That's when I will smile."
Burgin suffered a heart attack three years after
Christina's death. He takes three blood-pressure pills every day. At
Martin's trial, he asked the deputies if he could have five minutes
alone with the defendant. Last week, he was up at 3:30 a.m.
wondering what Leslie Dale Martin was thinking about at that moment.
Burgin went outside to get his paper and found out for the first
time, on the front page, about motions filed on Martin's behalf. "I
never thought I could hate someone as much as I hate (Martin). And I
do. I could take care of him myself without a problem and never look
back," Burgin said last week as his face turned red. "If I knew I
could get him to hell quicker, I'd grab him and we'd slide together."
It was at the trial in 1992 that the mothers of
the victim and the defendant came together from opposite sides of
the courtroom during a recess and sobbed in each other's arms.
Christina Burgin's mother, Diane Godeaux of Lake Charles, said last
week, "At that point, I felt for her as a mother. She's lost her son
just as surely as I've lost my daughter. I know, as a mother, this
is not what she wanted for her son."
Nine years after their embrace,
Martin's mother wrote a letter to the American Press editor arguing
the unfairness of her son's legal treatment. "Apparently death
penalty cases are too important to leave to the courts because they
don't care enough for the integrity of the system to care whether or
not the accused get a fair trial," wrote Trisha Martin of Shreveport.
Godeaux responded with her own letter to the
editor. She told Trisha Martin "to thank God for the mercy and
defense her son has had because it was more than he gave my daughter.
"I will be there on that final day to represent my daughter and to
see the court's justice carried out. And yes, I will and have prayed
for her son's soul."
Godeaux and Charles Burgin divorced before
Christina's death. Godeaux was remarried at the time of the murder.
She said it was easy for her to deny her daughter's death because
she never saw the body. The casket was never opened. "I had to take
strangers' word for it that it was my daughter," she said. "It was
easy for me to say, 'No, that's not my daughter they found. She's
just away.' " Godeaux got ulcers and migraines. She took medication
She and her second husband divorced. "Anything could
make me cry," she said. "... I'd be thumbing through a magazine and
see someone that looked like her and I'd start crying in public. "Your
life is no longer yours. You're at the mercy of anything that may
appear that gives you a memory, regardless of where you are or who
She began to notice healing after three years.
She became a bereavement counselor through Our Lady Queen of Heaven
Catholic Church. She was sent to parents whose children died.
Godeaux works for an insurance company. She gardens, writes in her
journal and reads. She's likes biographies, but has stuck to novels
recently. "The fiction is relaxing for me. The non-fiction sometimes
gets to be more than I can handle when I'm stressed," she said.
Her daughter, Dawn Hymel, also works for a local
insurance company. The family buried Christina the day before
Hymel's 16th birthday. "It's been horrible," she said. "If I drive
to a gas station and there are strange-looking people there, I'll
drive 30 miles out of my way to find the next gas station. "If I go
to the mall by myself, I'm constantly looking over my shoulder. If
there's someone strange in the parking lot, I'll wait in the mall an
hour before I go to my car by myself. "I check my front-door locks a
hundred times every night. I check my windows, even though I know
they don't open."
Hymel was in the family room Friday night at
Angola. She was not on the list to witness Martin's execution.
Godeaux and Charles Burgin were to witness it. Burgin said Martin's
death would not change the most important issue. "People talk about
closure — I'm tired of hearing this," he said. "Even when he dies,
there's not going to be any closure. Christina's never coming home."
LOUISIANA - Stay of execution
by U.S. Supreme Court.
February 8, 2002
The execution of convicted killer Leslie Dale
Martin was called off by the U.S. Supreme Court less than half an
hour before he was scheduled to die Friday night.
Warden Burl Cain told the inmate and witnesses
that justices had blocked the 6:30 p.m. execution with an order that
said they wanted to consider whether to hear his appeal.
Martin, 34, was sentenced to die for the rape and
strangulation of Christina Burgin, who was 19 when she was killed in
Lake Charles in 1991. Burgin's parents were among witnesses at the
prison, Cain said. Prosecutors said Martin choked the victim, cut
her throat, gouged her eyes out, put a board on her neck and jumped
up and down on it, then left her body in a shed. The body was found
so badly decomposed that identification was almost impossible.
Upon learning of the delay, "The prisoner was a
little bit stunned, a little bit shocked," Cain said. He said Martin,
a Buddhist, was sitting on the floor of his cell with his spiritual
adviser when he got the word. It was his 5th stay, but none of the
others had been this close. He already had eaten his last meal and
had said goodbye to his mother, which left him in tears, the warden
Cain said he sent Martin back to death row, to be
held in a new cell on a different tier. "I feel he'll be very, very
safe and secure on death row," Cain said. Earlier Friday, Martin had
6 visitors, 3 of whom were allowed in his cell with him: his mother,
his sister and the spiritual adviser. "I always try and let the
mother touch and hug his neck. She didn't do the crime but has to
suffer through this," Cain said.
Martin's attorneys had a request for a stay
pending at the U.S. Supreme Court. A handful of anti-death penalty
protesters were at the gate of the state penitentiary in rural
southeast Louisiana. Dozens more picketed the Supreme Court building
in New Orleans.
Martin briefly escaped from death row with 3
other inmates in November 1999 but was recaptured on prison grounds.
Cain said security was extra tight because of that, and because
guards had heard Martin several weeks ago talking about possibly
taking a hostage in another escape attempt.
Martin was moved from
death row to the death house, about 5 miles inside the vast prison
grounds, on Jan. 9. Those facing execution usually are moved to the
death house on the day of execution or a few days before.
Appeals centered on several issues, including the
claim that prosecutors had no physical evidence of rape -- an
important element since rape was an aggravating factor which backed
up the death sentence under Louisiana law. In addition, defense
attorney Clive Stafford-Smith challenged testimony that Martin
confessed to another inmate while in jail.
Stafford-Smith said a document turned over this
week by the district attorney showed "that the snitch, the jailhouse
informant, had been diagnosed as a pathological liar at the time of
trial. How can anyone be put to death based on that evidence?"
In Lake Charles, Judge Mike Canaday rejected
arguments Thursday that a mental health evaluation of the snitch was
not admitted at the 1992 trial. Canaday said prosecutors did not
have the evaluation at the time.
The agencies which had those
records were not working with the state on Martin's case, the judge
noted. Other issues in the case included a claim that Martin could
not get a fair hearing from the state Pardon Board because it is
biased toward victims. Canaday rejected the claim Wednesday, and his
ruling was upheld 6-1 by the state Supreme Court on Thursday with
Justice Bernette Johnson the only dissenter.
The Moratorium Campaign, a nationwide group
calling for a moratorium on executions, has been trying to persuade
Gov. Mike Foster to commute Martin's sentence. The organization said
that more than 500 faxes were sent through it to the governor
calling for a reprieve. Foster said earlier that he would not
interfere with the execution.
State v. Martin,
645 So.2d 190 (La. 1994) (Direct Appeal).
On June 20, 1991, defendant and Michael Roland
went to the 12th Street Lounge in Lake Charles at about 11:00 p.m.,
after playing pool and drinking beer for about two hours.
a college student and part-time employee at a pizza outlet, also
went to the lounge between 11:00 p.m. and midnight with some of her
friends. Defendant and the victim met through Roland, who had known
the victim previously.
During the evening, the victim danced with
defendant, while each shared beverages and companionship with other
friends in the lounge. When defendant returned to his aunt's home, where he was residing at the
time, he was wearing different pants than he wore at the time he
left the previous evening, and he had no shirt or shoes.
his clothes and his truck seat cover, telling his aunt that they got
muddy when he engaged in mud slinging with Roland. Defendant also
had scratches on his chest and back, a bite mark on his shoulder,
and a tear under his tongue. He told his cousin he had fought with a
"country boy" in the lounge.
The same morning, defendant told Huey Rushing
that he thought he may have killed someone the previous evening and
asked Rushing to provide him with an alibi by saying he had spent
the night at Rushing's home. Rushing refused, and defendant told him
that on the way back to Lake Charles the woman threatened to report
him for rape.
Defendant talked about a shed in Iowa (a town in
Calcasieu Parish) and related that he had put a rope around the
girl's neck, choked her, cut her throat, dug her eyes out, and
jumped up and down on a wooden board placed across her neck. In
response to a question, defendant asserted that he did not want to
be turned in for rape again. (Defendant had a previous conviction
for sexual battery and had served several years of a ten-year
Rushing related defendant's story to his
girlfriend, but they deemed it unreal until Rushing heard nine days
later that a girl was missing after leaving the 12th Street Lounge.
Rushing reported the story to the police, who found the victim's
decomposing body in a search of sheds in the Iowa area. The police
found a rope around her neck and a wooden board nearby which
contained human blood. The police then obtained a warrant and
At the trial, Rushing, Guimbellot and Roland
testified to the facts stated above. Other testimony was provided by
inmates with whom defendant was incarcerated after his arrest.
Robert Williamson testified that defendant stated he left the lounge
with the victim, drove to a side road past Iowa and had sex with the
When the victim accused him of taking
advantage of her, he feared a return to the penitentiary, and he
pulled her from the truck and strangled her, but had difficulty
killing her. Defendant disclosed that he had revealed the incident
to a friend with whom he had "done time," and the friend had
betrayed him to the authorities.
Michael Fontenot, who was also incarcerated with
defendant, testified that defendant stated the victim asked for a
ride home from the lounge, and he took her on a dirt road where he
had sex with her after removing her tampon which she later
When she accused him of rape during the ride back, he
pulled over near Iowa and strangled her until she passed out. When
she resumed breathing, defendant strangled her with a rope and
dragged her to a shed, where he left her. His friend told the police
"where he put the body and everything."
Marlin Sweet was a cellmate that defendant had
known some years earlier. Defendant related to Sweet the events of
the evening of the murder, stating that he wanted to have sex with
the victim, but that she refused because of her menstrual period.
Defendant said he "had to have her" and "overpowered her," although
she resisted and fought back.
When the victim became hysterical after the
sexual encounter and threatened to go to the police, he decided he
was not going back to prison for "nobody." He choked her, first with
his hands and then with a rope. She did not die, however, and he put
a wooden board across her neck and jumped on it two or three times.
Defendant then cut out her eyes with a knife so that she could not
There was little physical evidence because of the
condition of the body. However, human blood was found on defendant's
pants and truck seat cover, as well as on the wooden board recovered
near the body.
After the completion of the evidence in the guilt
phase of the bifurcated trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict
of guilty as charged. In the penalty phase, the prosecution relied
on the evidence presented in the guilt phase.
The defense presented
mitigating evidence by a psychiatrist and members of defendant's
family. The jury unanimously recommended the death penalty, finding
as aggravating circumstances that (1) the offender was engaged in
the perpetration of an aggravated rape, La.Code Crim.Proc. art.
905.4 A(1), and (2) the offense was committed in an especially
heinous, atrocious or cruel manner.
Martin v. Cain,
206 F.3d 450 (5th Cir. 2000) (Habeas).
On 20 June 1991, Martin went to a bar in Lake
Charles, Louisiana, where his companion, Roland, introduced him to
the victim. Around 7:30 the next morning, Martin told his work
supervisor that he had met a college student, left the bar with her,
and woke up alone on Galveston Beach. The supervisor noticed
scratches on Martin's forehead, neck, and shoulder that had not been
there the day before.
When Martin returned to his aunt's home (where he
was residing), wearing different clothes from the previous night,
and no shirt or shoes, his cousin observed scratches on his chest
and back, a bite mark on his shoulder, and a tear under his tongue.
Martin explained he had fought a "country boy" at the bar.
That same morning, Martin related to another,
Rushing, he thought he may have killed someone the previous night,
and asked him for an alibi. Although Rushing refused, Martin
confided that the victim had threatened to report him for rape.
Martin mentioned a shed in Iowa, Louisiana, and stated that he had
choked the victim with a rope, cut her throat, dug her eyes out, and
jumped up and down on a wooden board placed on her neck. Rushing
testified that Martin, who had served several years of a ten-year
sentence for sexual battery, told him (Rushing) "he didn't want to
be turned in for rape again".
Rushing did not believe Martin's story; but, nine
days later, when he learned the victim had been missing since
leaving the bar, he provided the information to police. During a
search of sheds in the Iowa area, authorities discovered the
victim's decomposing body, with a rope around her neck, and a wooden
board containing human blood nearby. There was little forensic
evidence. A tampon taken from the body tested negative for seminal
fluid; but, a forensic expert testified that, due to decomposition,
the test could be a "false negative".
Under Louisiana law, first degree murder includes
"killing ... a human being ... [w]hen the offender has specific
intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm and is engaged in the
perpetration or attempted perpetration of ... aggravated rape...."
La.Rev.Stat. Ann. § 14:30(A)(1) Rape is aggravated "[w]hen the
victim resists the act to the utmost, but whose resistance is
overcome by force". La.Rev.Stat. Ann. § 14:42(A)(1)
Three inmates who had been incarcerated with
Martin after his arrest, Williamson, Fontenot, and Sweet, each
testified, in varying detail, that Martin told them he had sexual
relations with the victim; she accused him of rape; and he killed
her, because he did not want to return to prison. But, only Sweet's
testimony established aggravated rape:
In May 1992, the jury found Martin guilty of
first degree murder. After a penalty phase hearing, it found that he
should be sentenced to death, as a result of finding the following
aggravating circumstances: the aggravated rape and that the offense
was committed in an especially heinous, atrocious, and cruel manner.
United States Court of Appeals for the
246 F.3d 471
LESLIE DALE MARTIN, Petitioner-Appellant,
BURL CAIN, Warden, Louisiana State
March 27, 2001
Appeal from the United States
District Court for the Western
District of Louisiana
REMAND FROM THE UNITED STATES
Before KING, Chief Judge, BARKSDALE,
and STEWART, Circuit Judges.
RHESA HAWKINS BARKSDALE, Circuit
Leslie Dale Martin,
sentenced to death in Louisiana state court for
first degree murder, appealed the denial of his
federal habeas application, the district court
having granted a certificate of appealability (COA)
on two interrelated claims regarding the testimony
of the State's key witness concerning Martin's
committing the murder in connection with aggravated
rape: ineffective assistance of counsel and a Brady
claim. Applying our court's thencontested standard
of review, we affirmed the denial of habeas relief.
Martin v. Cain, 206 F.3d 450, 461 (5th Cir.),
vacated, ___ U.S. ___, 121 S. Ct. 32 (2000).
That standard of
review was rejected subsequently in Williams v.
Taylor, 120 S. Ct. 1495 (2000). Concomitantly,
concerning the proper standard of review for the
case at hand, the Supreme Court granted certiorari,
and vacated and remanded for us to consider this
case in the light of Williams. Martin v. Cain, ___
U.S. ___, 121 S. Ct. 32, 32 (2000).
On remand, and
applying the standard adopted in Williams, we AFFIRM.
Other than those parts of the opinion in which we
apply that standard, this opinion closely tracks our
On 20 June 1991,
Martin went to a bar in Lake Charles, Louisiana,
where his companion, Roland, introduced him to the
victim. Around 7:30 the next morning, Martin told
his work supervisor that he had met a college
student, left the bar with her, and woke up alone on
Galveston Beach. The supervisor noticed scratches on
Martin's forehead, neck, and shoulder that had not
been there the day before.
returned to his aunt's home (where he was residing),
wearing different clothes from the previous night,
and no shirt or shoes, his cousin observed scratches
on his chest and back, a bite mark on his shoulder,
and a tear under his tongue. Martin explained he had
fought a "country boy" at the bar.
That same morning,
Martin related to another, Rushing, he thought he
may have killed someone the previous night, and
asked Rushing for an alibi. Although Rushing refused,
Martin confided that the victim had threatened to
report him for rape. Martin mentioned a shed in
Iowa, Louisiana, and stated he had choked the victim
with a rope, cut her throat, dug her eyes out, and
jumped up and down on a wooden board placed on her
neck. Subsequently, Rushing testified that Martin,
who had served several years of a ten-year sentence
for sexual battery, told him (Rushing) "he didn't
want to be turned in for rape again".
Rushing did not
believe Martin's story; but, nine days later, when
he learned the victim had been missing since leaving
the bar, he provided the information to police.
During a search of sheds in the Iowa area,
authorities discovered the victim's decomposing
body, with a rope around her neck, and a wooden
board containing human blood nearby. There was
little forensic evidence. A tampon taken from the
body tested negative for seminal fluid; but, a
forensic expert testified that, due to decomposition,
the test could be a "false negative".
law, first degree murder includes "killing ... a
human being ... [w]hen the offender has specific
intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm and
is engaged in the perpetration or attempted
perpetration of ... aggravated rape...." La. Rev.
Stat. Ann. 14:30(A)(1) (emphasis added). Rape is
aggravated "[w]hen the victim resists the act to the
utmost, but whose resistance is overcome by force".
La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 14:42(A)(1).
indicated there may have been a time lapse between
the charged rape and the charged murder. On direct
appeal, the Louisiana Supreme Court noted: "when the
sexual crime and the homicide 'formed one continuous
transaction'", the elements of 14:30(A)(1) are met.
State v. Martin, 645 So. 2d 190, 194 (La. 1994) (quoting
State v. Copeland, 530 So. 2d 526, 540 (La. 1988)
(holding that raping victim, driving across parish
line, and then committing murder, was "one
continuous transaction")). In any event, Martin
confirmed at oral argument here that he is claiming
there was no rape, not that a time lapse between the
charged rape and charged murder would preclude the
Three inmates who
had been incarcerated with Martin after his arrest
-- Williamson, Fontenot, and Sweet -- each testified,
in varying detail, that: Martin told them he had
sexual relations with the victim; she accused him of
rape; and he killed her, because he did not want to
return to prison. But, only Sweet's testimony
established aggravated rape:
You said that he didn't say where they went, it was
to be together, but what happened then?
A: Well, he said
that he wanted to have sex with her.
A: But she refused
because her ministration [sic] was on.
A: He said he had
to have her.
A: So he
Q: He overpowered
her. Did he tell you how he overpowered her?
A: He struggled
Q: He struggled
Q: Did he tell you
if she fought back?
A: Yes, she did.
Q: And what
A: He overpowered
her and had sex with her.
Q: ... Did he tell
you what happened next?
A: Yes. He said
that after he was finished she became hysterical and
went to threatening him about she was going to tell
the police, and that he was wrong for what he did.
Q: She was
hysterical at the time according to him?
Q: What did he
think then? Did he tell you what he was thinking
A: He said he was
thinking about going back to the prison.
A: And he said he
wasn't going back to prison for nobody.
A: He said his
mind clicked and he began to choke her.
Q: Did he tell you
if she was fighting back?
A: Yes, sir, she
Q: While he was
trying to kill her?
In May 1992, a
jury found Martin guilty of first degree murder.
After a penalty phase hearing, it found he should be
sentenced to death, as a result of finding the
following aggravating circumstances: the aggravated
rape; and the offense was committed in an especially
heinous, atrocious, and cruel manner.
On direct appeal,
Martin contended, inter alia, that the State, at
most, proved forcible, not aggravated, rape. Martin,
645 So. 2d at 194. The former occurs when "the
victim is prevented from resisting the act by force
or threats of physical violence under circumstances
where the victim reasonably believes that such
resistance would not prevent the rape". La. Rev.
Stat. Ann. 14:42.1 (emphasis added). The difference
between aggravated and forcible rape is "the degree
of force" and "the extent of resistance". Martin,
645 So. 2d at 195 (citing State v. Parish, 405 So.
2d 1080 (La. 1981)).
Supreme Court affirmed Martin's conviction and death
sentence, based, inter alia, on the victim's small
size and Sweet's testimony that the victim "refused
[Martin's] advances, that he struggled with her and
she fought back, and that he overpowered her". Id. (The
sufficiency of the evidence for aggravated rape is
not one of the certified issues here.) The Supreme
Court of the United States denied certiorari. Martin
v. Louisiana, 515 U.S. 1105, reh'g denied, 515 U.S.
In April 1997, the
state district court, having held a two-day
evidentiary hearing that January, denied Martin's
application for post-conviction relief. State v.
Martin, No. 9459-91. The claims certified for appeal
by the federal district court are the same as two of
the many rejected by the state district court.
Martin filed a
federal habeas application, presenting 17 claims, in
November 1998. The district court, adopting the
detailed and comprehensive report and recommendation
of the magistrate judge, denied relief. Subsequently,
it granted a COA on two claims regarding Sweet's
testimony: whether Martin received ineffective
assistance of counsel; and whether the State
violated its disclosure obligation under Brady v.
Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).
and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No.
104-32, 110 Stat. 1214 (AEDPA), applies because,
subsequent to its enactment, Martin filed his
federal habeas application. Green v. Johnson, 116
F.3d 1115, 1119-20 (5th Cir. 1997). Under AEDPA, a
COA, granted by a circuit justice or judge, is
required in order for us to review a habeas claim.
28 U.S.C. 2253; Lackey v. Johnson, 116 F.3d 149, 151
(5th Cir. 1997). As noted, two issues were certified:
Brady; and ineffective assistance of counsel.
habeas relief is not available to a state prisoner
with respect to any claim that was adjudicated on
the merits in the State court proceedings unless the
adjudication of the claim--
(1) resulted in a
decision that was contrary to, or involved an
unreasonable application of, clearly established
Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of
the United States; or
(2) resulted in a
decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence
presented in the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. 2254(d)
(emphasis added). Therefore, "pure questions of law
and mixed questions of law and fact are reviewed
under 2254(d)(1), and questions of fact are reviewed
under 2254(d)(2)". Corwin v. Johnson, 150 F.3d 467,
471 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 1049, 119
S.Ct.613, 142 L.Ed.2d 548 (1998). Because this
appeal involves mixed questions of law and fact,
2254(d)(1)'s standards apply. See Trevino v.
Johnson, 168 F.3d 173, 184 (5th Cir.) (whether State
must disclose evidence under Brady "is a mixed
question of law and fact"), cert. denied, 527 U.S.
1056 (1999); Creel v. Johnson, 162 F.3d 385, 395
(5th Cir. 1998) (ineffective assistance claims "present
a mixed question of law and fact"), cert. denied,
526 U.S. 1148 (1999).
In his appellate
brief, Martin claims the state district court's
concluding, on post-conviction review, that "the
standard for a Brady violation ha[d] not been met" (emphasis
added), was not a "full and fair adjudication", and
therefore, subpart (d)(1) should not apply. At oral
argument here, however, Martin acknowledged its
applicability. Accordingly, he appears to have
abandoned this contention. In any event, as did the
district court, we find this contention meritless.
pursuant to 2254(d)(1), there are two categories of
cases in which a state prisoner may obtain federal
habeas relief with respect to a claim that was
adjudicated on the merits in state court: if the
state court decision was either "contrary to ...
clearly established Federal law, as determined by
the Supreme Court" or "involved an unreasonable
application of clearly established Federal law, as
determined by the Supreme Court". 28 U.S.C.
2254(d)(1) (emphasis added).
interpreted 2254(d)(1)'s "contrary to" and "unreasonable
application" clauses. 120 S. Ct. at 1519-21. A state
court decision is "contrary to" clearly established
Supreme Court precedent if the state court: "applies
a rule that contradicts the governing law set forth
in [Supreme Court] cases"; or "confronts a set of
facts that are materially indistinguishable from a
decision of [the Supreme] Court and nevertheless
arrives at a result different from [Supreme Court]
precedent". Id. at 1519-20 (emphasis added). On the
other hand, a state court decision falls within the
"unreasonable application" clause when it
unreasonably applies Supreme Court precedent to the
facts. Id. at 1521.
The state court
decision at issue was not "contrary to" clearly
established Supreme Court precedent because: it did
not apply a rule contradictory to applicable Supreme
Court precedent; and it did not reach a result,
under "materially indistinguishable" facts, in
conflict with such precedent. Accordingly, we focus
on 2254(d)(1)'s "unreasonable application" clause:
whether the state district court unreasonably
applied Supreme Court precedent to the facts.
"[A] federal habeas court making the 'unreasonable
application' inquiry should ask whether the state
court's application of clearly established federal
law was objectively reasonable". Id. at 1521 (emphasis
added). We cannot reverse the denial of habeas
relief simply by concluding that the state court
decision applied clearly established federal law
erroneously. Id. at 1522. Instead, we must conclude
that such application was also unreasonable. Id.
defendant may establish a Brady violation, affecting
his constitutional right to due process, by showing
the prosecution suppressed favorable evidence,
including impeachment evidence, material to his
guilt. Jackson v. Johnson, 194 F.3d 641, 648-49 (5th
Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 529 U.S. 1027 (2000). See
United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, 682 (1985). "The
State's good or bad faith" in depriving the
defendant of exculpatory evidence "is irrelevant",
Rector v. Johnson, 120 F.3d 551, 558 (5th Cir. 1997)
(citing United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97, 110
(1976)), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1120 (1998); and the
reviewing court must assess "the cumulative effect"
of the nondisclosure. Hughes v. Johnson, 191 F.3d
607, 629 (5th Cir. 1999) (citing Kyles v. Whitley,
514 U.S. 419, 436 (1995)), cert. denied, 528 U.S.
material only if there is a reasonable probability
that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense,
the result of the proceeding would have been
different"; and such "'reasonable probability' is a
probability sufficient to undermine confidence in
the outcome". Bagley, 473 U.S. at 682 (emphasis
added). Therefore, to succeed on his Brady claim,
Martin had to "show that the favorable evidence
could reasonably be taken to put the whole case in
such a different light as to undermine confidence in
the verdict". Kyles, 514 U.S. at 435; Hughes, 191
F.3d at 629.
standard "is identical to" the prejudice standard
Martin had to satisfy to prevail on his ineffective
assistance claim. Johnson v. Scott, 68 F.3d 106,
109-10 (5th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1122
(1996). For the latter, he had to likewise
demonstrate "a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's unprofessional errors", the verdict would
have been different. Strickland v. Washington, 466
U.S. 668, 694 (1984); Davis v. Johnson, 158 F.3d
806, 812 (5th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S.
1074 (1999). (Because, as discussed infra, the
requisite prejudice is lacking for the ineffective
assistance claim, we need not address the other
prong of the Strickland test -- deficient
performance vel non by counsel.)
For the two
interrelated, certified claims, Martin contends:
contrary to Brady, the State failed to produce, and
his counsel, due to inadequate investigation --
contrary to Strickland -- failed to discover,
substantial impeachment evidence relative to Sweet
-- in his pre-trial video statement, cell location
history, and criminal record.
On 17 July 1991,
nine months before trial, and approximately two
weeks after Martin's arrest, Sweet provided for the
sheriff's office a videotaped statement about Martin.
That September, Martin requested witness statements
and any Brady material. Responding that there was no
Brady material, the State refused to disclose the
In May 1992, 11
days before trial, Martin filed a supplemental
motion for exculpatory evidence, again requesting
discovery, or an in camera inspection, of certain
inmate statements, including Sweet's. At the motion
hearing, the State objected to disclosure, again
claiming no Brady material. Based on that
representation, the motion was denied.
On the other hand,
before the State rested in the guilt-innocence phase
(but after the inmate-witnesses had testified), the
trial court did offer Martin's counsel an
opportunity to inspect the requested statements.
Counsel asked the judge to review the statements
The judge did so.
At a bench conference, he related that, in the
video, Sweet stated that Martin told him he and the
victim had been drinking, and "they had sex but she
didn't want to do it, but he was all worked up and
he overpowered her and she was hysterical". The
judge also reviewed and related portions of the
statements by Fontenot, Williamson, and three
inmates who did not testify. The judge reminded
Martin's counsel that, if they used portions of the
statements, the State could use the rest.
Sweet's testimony supported aggravated rape. Martin
contends that this late disclosure, and his counsels'
failure to independently review the statements,
prejudiced his defense, asserting that, during
closing arguments, the prosecutor "compounded" the
Brady violation by using Sweet's pre-trial statement,
not produced to Martin, to strengthen Sweet's
Sweet and Martin
became reacquainted in July 1991 when Martin, having
recently arrived at the jail, reminded Sweet they
had known each other previously. They were in the
same jail section that July (the offense was in late
June) when Sweet gave his video statement, and
thereafter, becoming cell mates later that summer,
from 31 August to 4 September. Martin contends that
the following differences between Sweet's pre-trial
statement and his trial testimony could have been
used to impeach Sweet.
testified that Martin told him details of the murder;
in the statement, that Martin told him only that he
"grabbed [the victim] with both hands around the
neck ... [and] he killed her then", and "didn't get
mentioning any earlier consensual activity by the
victim, Sweet testified that Martin said the victim
refused to have sexual relations because of her "ministration"
[sic]; in the statement, that Martin "was all worked
up because [the victim] had been kissing on him and
hugging all on him and he was aroused and she didn't
want to go through with it ... for some unknown
testified that Martin told him his (Martin's) friend,
"Pinky" (Rushing's nickname), "turned him in"; in
the statement, that Martin never mentioned the name
of the informant. (Martin notes that Sweet also
related that the same friend was with Martin when he
met the victim, but trial testimony established it
was Roland, not Rushing.)
finally, Sweet testified that Martin never told him
the victim was intoxicated or that he had been
drinking; in the statement, that Martin said "they
had been drinking".
between Sweet's statement and testimony are
favorable to Martin, because they could have been
used to attempt to impeach Sweet's credibility. And,
because Sweet was the "key witness on an essential
issue", United States v. Weintraub, 871 F.2d 1257,
1262 (5th Cir. 1989), then, arguably, the evidence
was material. See Wilson v. Whitley, 28 F.3d 433,
439 (5th Cir. 1994) (finding withheld evidence
material, relative to testimony "essential" to
defendant's conviction), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1091
maintains his counsel failed to properly
cross-examine Sweet when, in response to a question
by Martin's counsel, Sweet stated: "I don't know if
[Martin] said he raped her or had sex with her".
Martin's counsel did not question Sweet further
about this inconsistency.
The State responds
that the differences in Sweet's statement and his
testimony can be explained by the fact that, when
Sweet gave the statement, he and Martin had only
been in the same jail about two weeks, and Martin
could have told Sweet the details later, when they
became cell mates. It asserts that the video did not
contain Brady material, until Sweet gave the
somewhat differing testimony at trial; notes that it
did disclose his statement during trial; and
maintains that his testimony is reliable because,
about eight years prior to their joint incarceration,
Sweet and Martin had formed a friendship in a
review, the state district court concluded: "A
comparison of the video statement and trial
testimony of Sweet fail[ed] to reveal
inconsistencies sufficient to possibly impeach". (Emphasis
added.) It also concluded: because Sweet's
referenced un-followed-up-testimony was made in the
presence of the jury, there was no prejudice.
Upon review of the
record, we cannot say the state court's application
of federal law was incorrect, much less unreasonable.
Martin's counsel could have impeached Sweet
generally with his prior inconsistent statements (in
the pre-trial statement and his testimony on cross).
But, what is material (reasonable probability that
trial's result would have been different) is Sweet's
description of the victim's resistance and that
resistance being overpowered by Martin. In that
regard, Sweet's statement and testimony are
that, because of inadequate investigation, it was
only post-trial that his counsel learned Sweet and
Martin were not in the same cell in July 1991, when
Sweet claimed Martin confessed; and, in fact, were
cell mates only much later, that August-September,
and then only for four days. He contends: although
Sweet's account of his (Martin's) confession - e.g.,
Martin's pacing the floor of their cell at night on
several occasions - sounds rational had it occurred
over the "about two months" Sweet testified he and
Martin shared a cell, it is not compatible with a
four-day time span. Martin maintains the state
district court overlooked the significance of
Sweet's testimony that he was actually Martin's cell
mate when Martin confessed, only to him, the details
necessary to establish aggravated rape; and Martin
points out that, in its closing argument, the State
used Sweet's "cell mate" status to persuade the jury
Sweet's account was believable.
Sweet and Martin
were in the same cell only from 31 August to 4
September. The state district court found, however,
they were in the same "pod" from 9 July through 25
August 1991, with "access to each other daily from
about 5:00 a.m. until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m".
In the light of
their extensive opportunities to visit, and of
Sweet's testimony that Martin "went into details on
a different occasion", counsels' failure to discover
Sweet's cell location history does not translate
into a reasonable probability that, but for that
failure, the verdict would have been different. As
with the first issue, the state district court did
not unreasonably apply federal law.
also he was prejudiced by the State's failure to
disclose, and counsels' failure to discover (and
utilize for impeachment), Sweet's full criminal
record, which included several prior convictions (for
theft and "unauthorized use of a movable", and for
simple assault), as well as pending charges (Sweet
absconded with over $500 in parish funds given him
for use as an undercover narcotics informant, and
threatened to kill the officer who subsequently
arrested him). In particular, Martin's counsel was
unable to counter Sweet's trial testimony that he
had only one criminal offense -- for cocaine
indicates, and the state district court determined:
at a pre-trial hearing, the State provided Sweet's
criminal record to Martin's counsel. At a hearing on
Martin's new trial motion, however, Martin's counsel
testified that the State provided only "a
typewritten list of some charges against one inmate"
(unidentified in the record).
The state district
court noted: Sweet testified at trial in his prison
uniform; the jury was aware he had one prior felony
conviction and was currently in prison; and evidence
of the then pending charges, admissible only to show
bias or prejudice, would not have been admitted,
because Sweet denied any promise by the State of
leniency or a plea bargain. As a result, it held
that Martin had not shown the requisite prejudice.
For this issue, as
with the first two, the state court decision was not
outside the standard of 2254(d)(1), as defined in
As he did in
district court, Martin asserts that, cumulatively,
the referenced suppressed or undiscovered
impeachment evidence translates into the requisite
prejudice. He contends: the only other evidence of
aggravated rape, the scratches and other physical
injuries (bite mark on shoulder and tear under
tongue) observed by witnesses, could have been
caused by his claimed fight at the bar. (As noted,
according to Martin's cousin, Martin said the
injuries resulted from a fight there with a "country
The State responds
that, in addition to Sweet's testimony, other
evidence supported finding aggravated rape: Martin's
physical injuries; the removal of the victim's
clothing; and the logical inference that, had the
sexual relations been consensual, Martin would have
had no reason to kill her. The State acknowledges "Sweet
is the only State witness who testified that [Martin]
told him he raped the victim" (emphasis added); but,
it claims Williamson, Fontenot, and Rushing's
testimony also supported aggravated rape because
they "relayed the last words of [the victim]" - that
Martin "took advantage of her" (Williamson) or raped
her (Fontenot and Rushing).
that this contention by the State -- the victim "spoke
through" Martin and then through the inmates -- is
hearsay within hearsay, and cannot be used to
establish aggravated rape, because such evidence is
too unreliable. In support, Martin cites State v.
Lubrano, 563 So. 2d 847, 849 (La. 1990) ("[w]here
the state's case rests entirely on hearsay evidence
... counsel's failure to object does not necessarily
foreclose inquiry into the reliability of the result")
(emphasis in original); and State v. Allien, 366 So.
2d 1308, 1312 (La. 1978) (reversing conviction where
"unobjected to hearsay" was "exclusive evidence of a
defendant's guilt"). Martin contends: by taking the
victim's alleged statements out of context, the
State ignores the fact that such testimony indicates,
at most, the victim thought Martin had taken
advantage of her intoxication.
consistent with Martin's assertion at oral argument,
that this hearsay issue, even if raised previously,
was apparently not a basis for the decisions by the
Louisiana Supreme Court on direct appeal, or by the
state district court or federal district court on
post-conviction review. Accordingly, we decline to
consider this (the State's) contention.
To demonstrate the
requisite prejudice as a result of the claimed
cumulative error, Martin points to the magistrate
judge's statement, in his report and recommendation,
that, under a de novo review, he might have reached
a different conclusion than did the state district
court. However, as discussed, this is not the
standard of review: "[A]n unreasonable application
of federal law is different from an incorrect
application of federal law". Williams, 120 S. Ct. at
1522 (emphasis in original).
cumulative-error-issue, and as noted for each of the
earlier issues, we conclude that the state district
court did not unreasonably apply federal law to the
facts. Sweet's testimony, with the exception of that
about the aggravated nature of the rape, was
corroborated by a number of other witnesses and
other evidence, and Sweet's testimony concerning the
aggravated nature of the rape was, to some extent,
corroborated by Martin's visible physical injuries
shortly after the murder.
For the foregoing
reasons, and consistent with the result reached in
our first (vacated) opinion, the denial of habeas