Jeffrey Martin Sentenced to Death in 2006 Rape/Murder of 12yr Old PA Girl

Started by Jeff1857, January 03, 2008, 09:49:30 PM

previous topic - next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Go Down


WAYNESBURG, Pa. (AP) - A man's alleged confession to killing a 12-year-old girl on a horse farm in Greene County will be admitted as evidence at trial.

Fifty-year-old Jeffery Martin, of New Geneva, sought to bar the confession. He claims police coerced him by keeping him in a hot car, yelling at him and refusing him water, food and an attorney.

A Greene County judge says the confession can stay in evidence in an opinion filed Friday.

Martin is charged with homicide, rape and other crimes in the June 2006 death of Gabrielle Bechen. Bechen was reported missing after she went riding on her all-terrain vehicle near her family's home. Her body was found buried several days later.

Martin faces the possible death penalty if convicted.
This one HAS to get the needle.


April 28, 2008, 03:42:01 PM Last Edit: May 09, 2008, 08:55:52 PM by Jeff1857
WAYNESBURG (KDKA) ― Jury selection for a man accused of raping and killing a 12-year-old girl in Greene County continues today in court.

Jeffrey Martin, 50, is accused in the murder of Gabrielle Bechen.

Martin could face the death penalty if convicted of sexually assaulting and strangling Bechen back in June 2006.

Bechen was missing for five days and her body was discovered buried in a 6-foot grave on a horse farm near Waynesburg.

Martin's trial is expected to begin Wednesday, after the rest of the jury is seated.


WAYNESBURG, Pa. -- Opening statements and prosecution testimony were expected this morning in the trial of Jeffrey R. Martin, a farmhand accused of raping and strangling a 12-year-old Greene County girl and burying her body almost two years ago.

A jury of six men, six women and four alternates was sworn in yesterday in the courtroom of President Judge H. Terry Grimes. It took more than three days to choose the panel, primarily because of intense publicity surrounding the case.

Public Defender Harry Cancelmi, who is representing Mr. Martin, 50, of New Geneva, Fayette County, said all but one of the more than 80 prospective jurors questioned by the defense, prosecution and Judge Grimes for fitness to serve had heard about the highly publicized case.

The trial is expected to last about a week. Should Mr. Martin be convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Gabrielle Miranda Bechen of Greensboro, the trial will move into the penalty phase to determine whether he should be put to death or sentenced to life behind bars.

Mr. Martin is charged with homicide, rape of a child, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault of a child, sexual assault and abuse of a corpse.

The prosecution contends that on June 13, 2006, "Gabby," as she was known, left her home and rode her all-terrain vehicle to the nearby horse farm where Mr. Martin worked cleaning stalls and feeding horses.

Her parents didn't know where she had gone, prompting hundreds of volunteers to search for her over thickly wooded hills and fields. Gabby's body was discovered five days later, buried in a 6-foot grave on the horse farm.

State police considered Mr. Martin a suspect in Gabby's disappearance on the fourth day of the search. The FBI gave him a lie-detector test that day, after he denied knowing what had happened to her.

The next day, a Waynesburg couple found Gabby's ATV buried under a pile of manure on the horse farm. That refocused attention on Mr. Martin, who soon thereafter confessed that he strangled Gabby when she rode up to him at about 8:10 a.m. on June 13 and threatened to tell her parents that he had molested her.

He told troopers that wasn't true and that he panicked and choked her. He used a mule to transport her body to another section of the 300-acre farm. He dug a grave, deposited her body there and covered it with two bags of lime. Then he retrieved her helmet and tennis shoes, which had come off when Gabby tried to escape from him, and buried those items separately.

After confessing, Mr. Martin took police to where he had buried Gabby's body, helmet and shoes.

Despite Mr. Martin's denial that he had sexually assaulted Gabby before killing her, an autopsy and the positioning of her clothing when the body was found indicated she had been raped, authorities said.


WAYNESBURG - A 12-year-old Greene County girl was sexually assaulted less than an hour before she was strangled and buried on a farm near her Dunkard Township home in June 2006, forensic experts said Friday in the trial of the man charged in her death.

Forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht and the manager of the state police crime lab in Greensburg testified about the results of the autopsy and tests done on evidence collected during the investigation into the death of Gabrielle Miranda Bechen.

Jeffrey Robert Martin, a caretaker at the farm, is being tried on charges alleging he sexually assaulted and killed the girl on June 13, after she reportedly told him she was going to tell her parents he molested her.


The charges also allege Martin, 50, of New Geneva, Fayette County, buried the girl, the all-terrain vehicle she rode to the farm and other evidence.

Her body remained hidden until some of the hundreds of people who helped police search for her discovered the ATV buried off a horse trail on June 17.

Martin led police to the 5-feet-deep pit in which he buried the girl after the ATV was found.

Wecht, the former Allegheny County coroner, said acute vaginal hemorrhaging discovered during the autopsy occurred less than an hour before she died.

The "focalization" of the injuries to her neck indicates someone strangled her to death, Wecht testified under cross-examination by Martin's attorney, Greene County Public Defender Harry Cancelmi.

Wecht said he believes the girl was raped because she was found with her pants and underwear pulled down, but he could not rule out the possibility that she was assaulted with a blunt object.

He said the victim also had two bruises on her head and the lime she was covered with before she was buried might have accelerated decomposition.

No seminal fluid was found on any of the evidence tested at the crime lab and human hair sifted from dirt removed from the burial site could not be identified, said crime lab manager Chris Arrotti.

She said the bacteria and moisture in the soil might have dissolved any seminal fluid.

"Probative" tests on what Arrotti said she believed was blood on a vaginal swab and the victim's underwear indicated it was blood, but confirmation tests produced no results.

Also testifying was Traci Hammond, who, along with her husband, owns the 300-acre farm where Martin worked.

Martin attempted to blackmail her from his prison cell after he was arrested, Hammond testified under questioning from Greene County First Assistant District Attorney Linda Chambers.

Hammond said she received a letter on June 25, 2006, from Martin while he was in the Greene County Prison, threatening to report her to the Internal Revenue Service for paying him with cash if she didn't give him his final pay, Hammond said.

He wrote that he used a key, which Hammond said she didn't know he had, to enter her home and take a calendar from her desk.

No one testified about what information was on the calendar, but Hammond said Martin was not given a W-2 (wage and tax statement) form.

Martin wrote that he photocopied the calendar and would send it to the IRS if she didn't pay him by June 26, Hammond said.

She said Martin was usually paid on Saturday so he probably received his last pay on June 10.

Bechen disappeared three days later.

"We don't owe him any money," Hammond said. "There is a question whether he was working."

She said she did not pay him.

Martin is facing charges of homicide, rape of a child, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, sexual assault, abuse of a corpse and four counts of tampering with evidence.

The prosecution is seeking a conviction on first-degree murder, which is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.

Friday was the second day of testimony, which started after four days of jury selection. Eight men and eight women are serving as jurors, with four of them as alternates.

The Common Pleas Court trial resumes Monday morning before President Judge H. Terry Grimes.


WAYNESBURG, Pa. -- A Greene County jury this morning began deliberating the fate of Jeffrey Martin, the farmhand charged with raping and murdering 12-year-old Gabrielle Bechen in 2006.

The prosecution is seeking a first-degree murder conviction and the death penalty for Mr. Martin, 51, of New Geneva, Fayette County.

During the five-day trial, jurors heard a recorded confession in which Mr. Martin said he killed Gabby, as she was known, on June 13 after she rode her ATV from her Greensboro home to the nearby 300-acre farm where he worked. He confessed he did so because he panicked when she said she planned to tell her parents he had molested her, an allegation he denied.

Using farm equipment, he buried her body, ATV, shoes and helmet in separate sites on the farm, he told police.

His confession and his showing authorities the burial sites came on the fifth day of a massive search following Gabby's disappearance.

But Mr. Martin, the only defense witness, testified yesterday that his confession was coerced and that Gabby was actually killed and buried by a mysterious man who ran out of gas near the farm's driveway.

Defense attorney Harry Cancelmi told the jurors they needed to look at Mr. Martin's testimony about the stranger and about his coerced confession.

Prosecutor Linda Chambers said his story on its face was absurd and that he wanted jurors to believe that every other witness had lied.
This shouldn't take long.


WAYNESBURG (KDKA) ― A jury in Greene County has found a Fayette County man guilty of first-degree murder charges plus rape in the death of a 12-year-old girl.

Jeffery Martin, 50, was facing multiple charges in the June 2006 sexual assault and strangling death of Gabrielle Bechen, of Greene County.

Authorities found Bechen's body buried on a Waynesburg horse farm five days after she went missing.

Earlier this week, Martin testified that he is innocent, despite a confession he gave to police right after Bechen's body was found.

Both the prosecution and defense rested their cases on Tuesday and the jury began deliberations on Wednesday.

KDKA's Harold Hayes reports from court that the penalty phase is set to begin today at 11 a.m. It is expected to include victim impact statements and testimony from family.

Martin could now face the death penalty.


WAYNESBURG, Pa. -- A Greene County jury may today begin deliberating whether Jeffrey R. Martin should be put to death or sentenced to life in prison for raping and murdering a 12-year-old Greene County girl nearly two years ago.

Yesterday, after finding Mr. Martin guilty of sexually assaulting, strangling and burying Gabrielle Miranda Bechen on June 13, 2006, the jury of six men and six women began hearing testimony in the penalty phase of the case.

Returning to the stand today will be Maryland psychologist Marc J. Tabackman, a defense witness. Yesterday, arguing against putting Mr. Martin to death, he testified that mitigating factors include his dysfunctional family life and a traumatic brain injury from being hit by a car as a child. That injury, he said, left Mr. Martin with an IQ between 70 and 79, with 100 being average.

Furthermore, Dr. Tabackman testified, Mr. Martin said he had been molested several times as a child, and during his life had been alcohol dependent, depressed and suicidal.

District Attorney Marjorie Fox had only begun her cross-examination, during which she began to dispute some of those findings, when President Judge H. Terry Grimes recessed for the day.

Earlier during the penalty phase, Ms. Fox called to the stand Shannon Presock, a neighbor and cousin by marriage of "Gabby," as the victim was known. Ms. Fox told the jury she thought of also putting Gabby's parents, Chris and Mimi Bechen, on the stand, but noted their devastation at the loss of their daughter was well known because they had testified during the six-day trial.

Ms. Presock, at times so emotional that Judge Grimes kindly asked her to compose herself, said Gabby was "my cousin, my neighbor, my friend. She was a tomboy, but she was a princess."

She noted that Gabby loved all animals and everyone thought she would one day be a veterinarian, but "now we'll never know."

"She didn't deserve this. No one deserves this," she said, breaking down as other family members in the courtroom cried.

"I will miss the little things like opening my blinds and seeing Gabby making faces at me or fighting with the boys or chasing around with bugs.

"I think mostly I will miss her laughter and smile," she concluded.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Martin, a farmhand, showed no emotion when the court clerk read the verdict, reached during six hours of deliberations over two days. Not long thereafter, though, and for the rest of the day, he wore a scowl.

Gabby's mother and father held each other's hands tightly and, as each guilty verdict was recorded, the slightest smiles, absent throughout the trial, came over their faces. Dabbing tears, other family members reached to them in joy.

The jurors found Mr. Martin, 51, of New Geneva, Fayette County, guilty of first-degree murder, rape of a child, aggravated indecent assault of a child, statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse and four counts of tampering with evidence.

The jury obviously rejected the testimony by Mr. Martin, his only defense witness, that the murder was committed by a mysterious man who ran out of gas near the farm where the defendant worked as a farmhand.

Conversely, they accepted Mr. Martin's taped confession to the crimes. He confessed nearly two years ago that he killed Gabby after she rode her small all-terrain vehicle from her home in Dunkard to the nearby 300-acre farm.

He told authorities he panicked and strangled Gabby after she threatened to tell her parents he had molested her, an allegation he claimed was false.

Her disappearance precipitated a large scale search of the rural area of Greene County by police and volunteers, two of whom found Gabby's buried ATV five days after she went missing. After confessing, Mr. Martin showed state police investigators where he buried her body, helmet and shoes in individual sites on the farm.

"I'm very happy with the verdict," said First Assistant District Attorney Linda Chambers, who tried the case, "but I couldn't have done it without these fine officers. They did a fantastic part."

As for Mr. Martin, when asked if he wanted to comment on the verdict, he curtly told reporters: "Go get it off someone else."


WAYNESBURG (KDKA) ― A jury has decided to sentence a man convicted of raping and killing a 12-year-old girl in Greene County to death.

On Thursday, a jury found 50-year-old Jeffrey Martin guilty in the 2006 murder of Gabrielle Bechen. He body was found buried on a Waynesburg horse farm five days after she went missing.

KDKA's Harold Hayes reports that the prosecution put Dr. Bruce Wright, a psychiatrist from Pittsburgh, on the stand today. He said that Martin has reportedly changed his story.
I didn't think it would take long.


WAYNESBURG - Jeffrey Robert Martin's daughter Friday said she was thankful a "monster" had been taken off the street moments after a jury decided Martin should be sentenced to death for strangling a 12-year-old girl to death in June 2006.

The Greene County jury that found Martin, 51, guilty on Thursday of first-degree murder and rape in the killing of Gabrielle Bechen deliberated for a little more than an hour Friday afternoon before returning with the decision for the death penalty.

Formal sentencing will take place later.

Martin's daughter, Jennifer Martin, 24, sat with the Bechen family during the last few days of the trial and cried when the Jury's choice of sentence was announced.

Some members of the Bechen family and their friends also cried, while others muffled their cheers in acknowledgement of courtroom decorum.

Jennifer Martin said she sat with the Bechens to express condolence and love.

The two years since her father's arrest have been hard on her, she admitted to the media outside the courtroom.

She said he "denies the whole thing" in letters he occasionally sends her from prison.

"He was never a father to me. He was never there for me," she said.

She said she thanks the jurors, state police and Greene County prosecutors "for taking a monster off the street."

No other members of Martin's family were present when the verdicts from the trial, which started May 1, or sentencing were read.

His attorney, Greene County Public Defender Harry Cancelmi, said Martin's wife and mother were subpoenaed to testify during the sentencing phase of the trial, but they did not appear.

Martin displayed no reaction when either verdict was read and said nothing when he was led from the courtroom Friday.

When asked if the sentence provided the family with closure, Christopher Bechen, the victim's father, said, "There's no such thing."

Greene County District Attorney Marjorie Fox said prosecutors took no pleasure in seeking the death penalty, but the evidence clearly warranted the sentence.

The mandatory sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

The last capital murder case in the county was in 1995 and the defendant was sentenced to life in prison, Fox said.

"Justice was served for Gabby," said Fox.

Shannon Presock, who is related to the Bechens by marriage and lives across the street, wept as she read a statement to the media.

"We know Gabby is looking down and smiling that justice was served today," she said.

She thanked police, prosecutors and the volunteers who helped police and the FBI search for the girl.

Gabrielle Bechen was reported missing June 13 after she rode an all-terrain vehicle from her Dunkard Township home to the nearby farm on Mount Joy Road where Martin had been employed as a hand for about four years.

She wasn't supposed to ride the ATV without telling her parents, they testified last week, but she did that day. Martin was convicted of raping and killing her then burying the body, ATV and other evidence on the wooded 300-acre farm.

Police testified they noticed Martin watching them at times when they were searching through sections of the farm on June 17, when the search focused on the property.

Martin was arrested after two of the volunteer searchers discovered the ATV buried and covered with manure near a creek off a horse trail.

He led police to the gravesite, where he covered the body with lime before filling it in.

Martin's testimony on Tuesday was vastly different from the recorded confession he gave police the day he was arrested.

In the confession, which was played in court Monday, Martin said he strangled the girl to death after she rode her ATV to the farm and threatened to tell her parents he molested her.

Prosecutors argued that he raped the girl and then killed her to prevent her from telling anyone.

In his testimony, he said a man, whose truck ran out of gas in front of the farm, offered him $100 to help him dispose of an ATV, and he noticed a body in the man's truck after they buried the vehicle.

He said he went back to work, but the man drove a backhoe and took lime from the farm, buried the body and then showed him the gravesite.

Martin also claimed police "abused and tortured" him to make him confess.

During the sentencing phase Thursday morning, Martin's sister, Debbie Martin, and brother, Donald Martin, testified about how he, his four brothers and three sisters grew up in a broken and poor household in Mather with alcoholic and abusive parents.

Donald Martin recalled going two days without eating until a neighbor brought over some green tomatoes, going to school wearing dirty clothes and sleeping on mattresses on the floor with no blankets.

Debbie Martin said her stepfather molested her for several years until she was 11 years old, when she was placed in foster care.

A psychologist from Maryland, who testified for the defense in the penalty phase Thursday, said he found Martin to have a borderline mental disability and some traits of anti-social behavior.

A psychiatrist from West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh testified for the prosecution, saying Martin showed a lack of remorse, deceitfulness and anti-social behavior.

In deciding on the death penalty, the jury found two aggravating circumstances that existed at the time of the homicide outweighed the mitigating circumstances.

If the jury had found that the mitigating circumstances outweighed the aggravating circumstances, they would have been required to sentence Martin to life in prison, according to President Common Pleas Court Judge H. Terry Grimes' instructions to the panel.

The aggravating circumstances were: Martin murdered the girl to avoid being prosecuted for raping her and the killing took place while he was committing a felony.

Four of the other charges he was convicted of, rape of a child, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and sexual assault, are felonies.

The mitigating circumstances were Martin's character and history.

Formal sentencing will take place after a pre-sentence report and Megan's Law evaluation are completed.

There is an automatic appeal process in death penalty cases.
Well at least his daughter is speaking up about this monster.


WAYNESBURG (KDKA/AP) ― A farmhand has now been formally sentenced to the death penalty today for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl on a southwestern Pennsylvania horse farm.

A Greene County jury found 51-year-old Jeffrey Martin guilty in May and found he deserved execution for killing Gabrielle Bechen on June 13, 2006.

In Pennsylvania, a death sentence must be formally imposed by a judge.

KDKA's Harold Hayes reports that the judge in the case has declared Martin a sexually violent predator. Martin's daughter testified at the hearing that she was molested by her father at the age of six.

Martin testified as well.

In 2006, Bechen disappeared while riding her all-terrain vehicle at a Greensboro horse farm where Martin worked.

Her body was found buried on the farm five days later.

Martin denies killing Bechen.

He says a man came to the farm with a body and the ATV and offered him $100 to help bury the vehicle.

heidi salazar

Man facing death penalty loses appeal for killing 12-year-old girl

A farmhand facing the death penalty for killing a 12-year-old Greene County girl lost an appeal for a new trial after his public defender failed to file a memorandum supporting his claims.

Jeffrey Martin's post-sentence motions regarding his first-degree murder conviction in the death of Gabrielle Bechen were denied yesterday in an order by Greene County Senior Judge H. Terry Grimes.

First Assistant District Attorney Linda Chambers said prosecutors waited for more than a year for Martin's attorney, Harry Cancelmi, to file the memorandum supporting his Sept. 29, 2008, motions for a retrial.

Among Cancelmi's contentions were that Grimes, the trial judge, made several erroneous decisions, Chambers said.

At one point in June, Grimes suggested in an order that Cancelmi could face a $100-a-day sanction because of his delay in filing, but the penalty never was imposed, according to court records.

Cancelmi was not available for comment Friday because he was at a conference, according to the Greene County public defender's office.

With the judge's ruling, Cancelmi now will have a month to appeal Martin's case to the state Supreme Court, Chambers said. In Pennsylvania, defendants given the death penalty get an automatic appeal to the state's highest appellate court to review whether the evidence is sufficient to support the guilty verdict and sentence.

Chambers opposed Martin's motions in a brief filed Monday.

"The procedure of having the commonwealth file their memorandum before the defense is not addressed by the rules of court," Chambers said in a statement. "However, something had to be done to move this case to the Supreme Court for its review. It is not fair to the parents of the victim or to the defendant, for that matter, to allow the case to linger indefinitely."

Jurors convicted Martin, 52, of New Geneva, Fayette County, in May 2008 of the June 2006 rape and murder of the girl on a Dunkard Township farm.

Martin confessed to raping Gabrielle and burying her in a shallow grave, but the defense claimed that his statements were coerced by police. He told investigators he killed the girl after she threatened to tell her parents about the sexual assault.

On the witness stand, Martin claimed Gabrielle was murdered by an unidentified person who drove a white pickup truck and offered him $100 to help dispose of the all-terrain vehicle she was riding by burying it, too.

Besides the death penalty, Grimes sentenced Martin to another 23 to 46 years for other crimes, including rape, involved in the case.

(source: Tribune-Review)

Go Up