Friday, November 24, 2017
News Roundup

Clearwater man on trial for murder in Pasco claims sexual assault

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NEW PORT RICHEY — Two men in a white Dodge pulled up to Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park last year. Christopher Ashton Martin had just turned 30, and, according to prosecutors, he was going to camp overnight with Marcus Yulvaughne Wilson, then 18.

Martin spoke with an attendant, according to testimony in court, and selected campsite No. 2.

The two drank through the night and Wilson passed out, authorities said. It was May 13, 2012, Mother's Day.

Wilson woke up to Martin performing oral sex on him sometime after midnight, according to a report. Martin had two handguns with him, prosecutors say, and Wilson shot Martin in the back of the head with one of them. He told deputies he lost his temper and kicked Martin in the back, and then he fired the gun.

"This is about two men, a park and an execution," prosecutor Chris Sprowls told jurors Tuesday.

Sprowls called it so because of gunpowder burns on the back of Martin's head — indicative of a close-range shot.

Wilson, now 20, sat and listened as Sprowls went through the evidence during opening statements. Wilson is charged with first-degree murder and faces life in prison if convicted.

After the shooting, prosecutors say, Wilson covered Martin's body with a sleeping bag. He took the guns, $40 and the Dodge.

An attendant working at the park found Martin's body, first thinking the person under the sleeping bag was either drunk or asleep.

Wake up, he said. He pulled off the bag, saw the bullet wound and called authorities.

Deputies found the car later at Wilson's residence at 15759 Avalon Ave., Apt. A, in Clearwater. They found the guns in a backpack, along with some of Martin's belongings. Investigators matched Wilson's DNA on a cigarette butt and beer bottle found at the scene.

The arrest report said Wilson was a student at Mavericks High School, a charter school geared toward at-risk youth.

Dean Livermore, Wilson's attorney, agreed there was an altercation but gave a different conclusion to the events.

Martin sexually assaulted Wilson, Livermore told the jury, and Wilson was going for his gun when Martin shot him. Deputies found a 9mm magazine in Martin's pocket.

"It's justifiable use of deadly force," Livermore said.

Jurors saw a video of the crime scene in court. Martin was facedown slumped over on his side with an arm outstretched, on the brown foliage. The video showed marked cigarette butts, beer bottles and a condom wrapper.

Prosecutors plan to call more witnesses as the trial continues today.

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