The second hitman’s testimony: anxiety-filled, but unflappable
BENTON—A roofer from West Frankfort was on the stand in the early afternoon today, the fifth day of Gallatin County sheriff Raymond Martin’s federal jury trial.
Martin is now facing the Witness Intimidation and Conspiracy portion of his 15-count charges, and testimony is focusing on that intimidation, wherein Martin is accused of attempting to hire hitmen to kill two key witnesses in the drugs/weapons portion of the charges, Jeremy Potts and David Woods.
The testimony for the morning was almost filled with that of the first “hitman,” Thomas “Sarge” Hayden. But the early part of the afternoon was dedicated to the second ‘hitman,’ Kevin Brown.
Brown, 32, a laborer (most recently roofer), found himself in the Jackson County Jail in Murphysboro Sept. 24, 2009, after he was caught driving on a suspended license. The gaunt, hesitant Brown was almost visibly trembling on the stand telling the courtroom about the experience. He didn’t lighten up at all even when he discussed his five children (ages 2, 4, 7, 8 and 9) and his girlfriend of 10 years, Jessica Sims; and he ultimately told prosecutor Michael Carr that he suffered an anxiety disorder and had to take Clonopin for it.
His speech was choked and considerably thick, not, perhaps, so much attributed to the meds as much as it might have been that he was a “seventh grade dropout” and simply is an uneducated country bumpkin. However, he told a fascinating story about meeting “Ray” in the jail, and how “Ray” offered him a piece of fruit (that he had in his commissary stash, because “Ray” always had money for fruit, snacks and phone cards, and many incarcerated with him had little to nothing) which sealed their ‘friendship.’
During this friendship, Brown, perhaps in an attempt to ingratiate himself to the jailed sheriff, claimed he exaggerated how “tough” he was and ultimately made Martin believe he could be the type of person Martin needed to “make a hit” on Potts.
Martin arranged money to come from his wife, prosecutors allege, and a method for it to be delivered to Brown when he served his jail sentence (via Martin’s son, Cody), and Brown acquiesced…sort of.
Brown told the court that he only agreed to the scheme because “I wanted the money, and I was gonna take it and never see him again,” Brown testified. And that he did. Before his girlfriend came to pick him up that very day (via a friend; she didn’t have a driver’s license either), Brown managed to spend a little bit of the grand Cody left him, on a carton of cigarettes, a blouse for his girlfriend and a collar for his dog.
The girlfriend was worried, but not so much that she didn’t spend too. By the time early November came around, the two and their five kids were probably a little better fed (on a temporary basis) but no better off. And since Jeremy Potts was still alive—as Brown had no intention of following through with a murder for hire—Raymond Martin was getting messages to them, via Cody, that they needed to give the money back because “the lawnmower wasn’t working” (this family is very, very uncreative when it comes to code talking, but it appears they got the word across to the Browns.)
The way Brown described Martin’s instructions to murder Potts was chilling. When asked by Martin what he would do if Potts’ girlfriend Miranda Willis was present, Brown responded “I’ll kill her too” and Martin told him, “Good. Good.”
“She was disposable,” Brown said to the prosecutor.
The courtroom wasn’t treated to recorded cell phone calls between Brown and Tina like they were between Hayden and Tina (complete with Tina’s ringtone of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” >.< ), but the testimony was nevertheless intriguing.
Following Brown’s anxiety-filled examination, testimony from Angela Sisk (daughter of Precision Mines owner Frank Sisk) came about money found in the Precision safe that belonged to Tina Martin; and Julia Loy, detective for Jackson County, also testified about same. Brown’s girlfriend, Jessica Sims, also took the stand for a short time, confirming what Brown had already told the court. Despite an apparent lack of teeth, Sims was considerably more well-spoken than her babies’ daddy.
More to come…including the conclusion of Cody Martin’s testimony in the morning…keep checking back!
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