Our View: Time to exercise Martin’s right to speedy trial

Published 8:10 am Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lonnie Martin was 39 when he was arrested in 2013 and charged with the murder of a young Winchester woman. 

Today, at age 43, he is still awaiting trial for the murder of 25-year-old Kyla Kline and charges in Clark County for the 1995 death of his cousin, 21-year-old Joseph Martin. 

Martin was originally arrested in late July 2013 after Kline’s body was found on a farm near the Montgomery-Clark county line.

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Kline lived in Winchester, but disappeared July 3, 2013. Her family reported her missing three days later. Her remains found beneath a brush pile on the farm July 28, 2013, by a K-9 search dog.

Detectives said Kline was stabbed four times and had been struck in the face once. 

Following his arrest, Winchester Police detectives interviewed Martin. Based on Martin’s statements during that interview, detectives charged him with the Oct. 29, 1995, death of Joseph Martin, who died when he fell from a bridge over Washington Street and was struck by a passing train.

Initially, Martin’s cases seemed to fit the timeline of any other. By August 2013, the cases were sent to the grand jury. In September 2013, he was indicted on both charges. In October 2013, he pleaded not guilty to the charges, and by February 2014, it was determined he would need to be tried for Kline’s murder in Montgomery County before he could be tried for Martin’s murder in Clark County. 

His trial was set to begin in September 2014 with the Clark County case expected to follow in October. 

Yet, nearly four years after his arrest, Martin is still waiting for the trials to begin and the families of Kyla Kline and Joseph Martin are still waiting for justice to be served in the death of their loved ones. 

Since 2014, headlines involving Martin’s cases have read “Martin murder trials postponed,” “Martin case moved to Morehead,” “Martin trial on hold again,” “Martin murder trials postponed again.” 

The trials have been postponed for things like delayed evidence testing, the resignation of Martin’s attorney and even a move to Morehead because Martin allegedly assaulted another inmate creating too much publicity. 

Earlier this month, Martin was placed back on the Montgomery County trial docket for July 2017. 

The Sixth Amendment states, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” 

That clearly hasn’t happened in this case, some at Martin’s own fault, but largely for other reasons. By law, Martin is innocent until proven guilty and he has sat waiting for that verdict for nearly four years. Based on the track record, he could continue to wait even longer for answers. 

We hope that isn’t the case. 

Not only does Martin deserve to see his Sixth Amendment right exercised, the victims’ families deserve the closure that can only come with the results of these trials. 

Likewise, the community deserves answers about the case. If for some reason Martin was found innocent, that’s four years worth of taxpayers’ dollars spent housing him. 

In other local high-profile murder cases, justice has been served in as little as two years. 

It is imperative those responsible for the Montgomery County case get things going, so prosecutors in Clark County, who have previously said they are ready to try Martin here, can also do their jobs. 

We don’t urge rushing through cases of this magnitude, but the time has come for these trials to be seen through, for Martin’s sake, for the community’s sake and for the sake of the victim’s loved ones.