The Herald Bulletin

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February 14, 2012

Former inmate sentenced to 18 years for role in prison riot

Judge says probation would not benefit defendant

ANDERSON, Ind. — Sentencing resumed Tuesday for a man convicted of stabbing another inmate during a riot at the Pendleton Correctional Facility.

Joseph Martin was sentenced to 18 years at the Department of Correction, with no time suspended. Defense attorney Thomas Godfrey asked the court to split Martin’s sentence between prison and probation.

Circuit Court 4 Judge David Happe, who was filling in for Circuit Court 2 Judge Dennis Carroll, said he did not believe probation would benefit Martin.

Sentencing began Monday afternoon, but had to be continued due to a delay when Martin left the courthouse minutes before the hearing was to begin.

Martin, 29, was held at the Madison County Jail until sentencing resumed. According to Deputy Prosecutor David Wyser, Martin was caught by jail staff with a condom filled with his girlfriend’s urine.

“He was facing 20 years. Why would he go and do something like that? It’s bizarre,” Wyser said after sentencing.

Members of Martin’s family, as well as his boss Eric Scott, testified on Monday that Martin has put his life together, and was focused on living a “normal” life. However, Wyser used the incident at the jail to demonstrate Martin was not ready to be a contributing member of society.

In January, Martin pleaded guilty to four counts associated with the Feb. 8, 2008, prison riot. As part of the plea, the maximum sentence was capped at 23 years. According to Martin’s fiancee, Melanie, the prosecutor’s office promised it would only seek a 10-year sentence.

“They lied to us,” the woman said afterward.

According to Wyser, no such promise was ever made. He said he promised he wouldn’t seek the maximum sentence, and his recommendation would be based, in part, by how Martin behaved in court.

Wyser said Martin did not act remorseful, nor answer questions honestly throughout sentencing.

Godfrey argued that Martin’s behavior in court Monday was due to being “caught by surprise,” because Happe was sitting in for Carroll. On Monday, Martin said he had developed a rapport with Carroll, and didn’t feel comfortable being sentenced by another judge.

Happe noted several mitigators for Martin, such as the fact that he was employed and his employer traveled from Evansville to testify on his behalf. However, the judge said they were outweighed by the aggravators.

At the time of the prison stabbing, Martin was serving a six-year sentence for dealing cocaine. He was released from prison on May 29, 2010.

Contact Sam Brattain: 640-4883,

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