Overdue trials will bring needed closure

Published 12:15 pm Monday, April 3, 2017

Kyla Kline’s family deserves closure so the healing process can truly begin. Joseph B. Martin’s family needs the same, having waited more than 22 years to know definitively what happened to their loved one.

And, as much as it can be difficult or even painful to understand, accused murderer Lonnie Martin deserves the fair and speedy trial afforded to him in the U.S. Constitution.

None of those have happened up to this point but now, nearly four years after Kline was murdered, the accused may finally face justice.

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The Powell County man was formally charged in 2013 but a myriad of postponements including evidence testing delays, the resignation of one of the prosecutors, the retirement of Martin’s attorney and the relocation of the case to a neighboring county due to publicity has caused this to drag on for too long.

Finally, a trial date has been set for October 16. This must proceed now.

Once Kline’s case is resolved, Clark County prosecutors will try Lonnie Martin for the 1995 homicide of his cousin, Joseph Martin, who authorities allege was pushed from a Washington Street bridge and hit by a passing train.

The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution says, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

Although it may still meet the technical requirements of the law, it is hard to argue that has happened here. Far more people than Martin have been hurt by it.

Alexander Hamilton, American statesman and one of our Founding Fathers who has been thrust back into the American conscience through the Broadway production bearing his name, said, “I think the first duty of society is justice.”

Having a trial date set, and following it through with the trial that all parties deserve, is the first step on this path.