Lanny Fisher Archives

Washington, Martin to go to trial

Date Wednesday, June 22, 2011   |   Author Jessica Sieff

Martise Washington and Parnell Martin, both 18 — two of four teenagers currently facing charges that could result in life in prison for their alleged roles in a sex scandal — appeared in court Wednesday and learned they will face a jury in the fall.

Following open arguments, Judge Scott Schofield ruled in favor of the prosecution to bind-over the two defendants on a number of charges.

For defense attorney Lanny Fisher, representing Martin, Wednesday’s ruling also came with a small but marginal victory.

Fisher made a motion to reduce Martin’s bail, currently at $150,000, arguing his client has never been in trouble before and that his client would agree to a bond and some form of home incarceration.

Schofield agreed to a bond of 10 percent of the bail amount, as well as home incarceration in the care of his mother; no contact with any females under the age of 18; no entry on school property; and no contact with any of the co-defendants in the case.

“It’s good for him,” Fisher said following proceedings, adding that his hope is his client would be home soon.

Schofield also ruled a charge of possessing child sexually abusive material against Martin be dropped.

“He still has obviously, the (first degree criminal sexual conduct),” Fisher said. “But we take our victories where we can.”

Washington faces seven various charges, three of them first degree criminal sexual conduct. Trey Nichols, 18, and Martell Miller, 17, face similar charges and are also awaiting a bind-over ruling.

They are scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

Inside the courtroom, Fisher and Washington’s attorney Jim Jesse, gave what could be a glimpse into their defense when trial, scheduled for Oct. 18-21, begins.

Washington, Martin, Miller and Nichols were arrested in May along with Leon Murphy, 18, on charges stemming from incidents occurring on March 14 and March 18 in which Washington allegedly had sex with a female victim under age 18 in Nichols’ bedroom. The act was allegedly intentionally recorded, and four days later, that video was used to force the victim into multiple sex acts with each of the defendants. Murphy accepted a plea deal and will not stand trial.

Jesse argued the sexual acts that occurred between the victim and his client were consensual.

“In regard to these sex acts, according to (the victim) they were all consensual with my client,” Jesse said.

He also called into question Washington’s knowledge of the video.

“Testimony does not support that Mr. Washington was aware of the taping,” he said.

Fisher called into question the credibility of the victim as he addressed the court on behalf of Martin.

“(The victim) lied to police and she lied under oath … she lied when she said she did not know the video was produced; the evidence shows she did know,” Fisher said. “How credible is her testimony when she clearly made up a substantial part of it?”

Fisher also argued his client was unaware of text messages sent to the victim by Murphy, reportedly threatening to post the video on Facebook if she did not perform certain sex acts with each of the defendants.

“Clearly he didn’t know that Mr. Murphy was extorting sex,” Fisher said.

Several dates were set for the prosecution and defense to file any relative motions in the case.

Prosecutor Steve Pierangeli has until July 8 to decide whether or not he will seek to consolidate any or all of the defendants into one trial.

If each of the defendants receive their own trial, it’s possible each case will be heard by one jury.

Asked what kind of effect that would have on each case, Fisher speculated, “it would be very convoluted. It would be extremely convoluted,” he said. “But it is done.”

Pierangeli told the court there were additional motions to be filed in regard to some of the defendants that could make a difference in whether any of them could or should be consolidated, but he did not go into further detail.