Closing arguments in Martinson case reflect on cause of death - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Closing arguments in Martinson case reflect on cause of death

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Posted: Sunday, November 6, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:35 pm, Thu Mar 29, 2012.

Closing arguments in the first degree murder trial of Jeffrey Martinson left jurors wondering if the state had proven without reasonable doubt that carisoprodol toxicity was the cause of Joshua Eberle-Martinson's death in 2004.

The state's attorney Frankie Grimsman began by quoting Martinson's last words before his son was found dead, when he told his neighbor Karla Ramos that Joshua didn't care about him and only talked about his mom.

Then Grimsman went back over the relationship between Kristin Eberle, Joshua's mom, and Jeffrey Martinson. She said Martinson had displayed a pattern of controlling and manipulative behavior throughout their relationship. When Eberle finally left after she claims Martinson assaulted her on Sept. 29, 2000 she still allowed Martinson to have visits with Joshua. Eberle received several orders of protection against Martinson from 2000 to 2003 but Martinson was still allowed visits with his son.

Grimsman pointed out that Martinson continually complained about money spent providing for Eberle and Joshua when they were living together and paying for supervised exchanges once they split. Even hours after Joshua's death during Martinson's interview with detectives he brought up issues with Eberle and money, Grimsman said.

The state reminded the jury that Soma, or carisoprodol was found in Joshua's system. It was unknown how much of the drug Joshua had taken or what amount is lethal for children.

Grimsman said the other possible causes of death the defense had brought up from ant bites, insecticide poisoning or a heart complication known as a channelopathy, would be very rare and even more rare for those things not to have been found in an autopsy.

As for Martinson's earlier testimony of a possible drowning, that scenario was never mentioned in 2004. In 2004 Martinson claimed he couldn't remember Sunday at all. Now Martinson's defense was claiming in the time Martinson had taken the trash out and checked for any more ants around the outside of the apartment in August of 2004, Joshua had drowned in the bathtub.

Grimsman said that Martinson's grief response of not calling 911 and not doing CPR, even though he had been certified for 18 years, and then attempting suicide was unheard of. Martinson's defense attorney, Michael Terribile said the whole case was based on speculation.

"Instinct may have its place but reason has to rule," Terribile told the jury.

Terribile reasoned that Dr. John Hu's, the medical examiner in the case, finding of toxicity by carisoprodol is one that had never been found before and that multiple experts had said could not be proven. Hu had been shown tests that proved small amounts of carisoprodol, like that found in Joshua, would not have been lethal, but Hu continued to defend his findings, Terribile said.

The defense argued that the jury would have to believe that Martinson gave Joshua the Soma pill and that the pill killed him, in order for Martinson to be guilty of first degree murder. In this case, all the autopsy findings point to asphyxiation, drowning, channelopathy or anaphylactic shock as possible causes of death that were not ruled out, Terribile said.

Because the state argued that circumstances were necessary in determining the cause of death, the defense said that the circumstances Dr. Hu was told about were biased coming from Detective Sandra Rodriguez.

Rodriguez arrested Martinson at 10:03 a.m. the day after his son was found dead. She did not tell Dr. Hu about the wet bath mat found in the bathroom or the wet clothes found in Martinson's master bathroom, which could have led Hu to determine the cause of death a drowning. Terribile suggested that Rodriguez had jumped to conclusions before autopsy results or interviews.

Terribile reminded the jury that it was up to the state to prove Martinson's guilt and that there should be a presumption of innocence until they did so. He argued they had not proven without a reasonable doubt that Joshua had been killed by his father.

Terribile recounted Martinson's story of finding his son floating face down in the bathtub. He pulled him out and began patting his back trying to get him to breathe. Terribile said the urine on the bath mat was consistent with Martinson's story, that Joshua had died there in his arms. Martinson didn't call 911 because it was already too late and with no one there to stop him, said Terribile, he attempted suicide.

The jury of 15 was narrowed down to 12 to head into deliberations. If one jury member gets sick or cannot attend deliberations, one of the three that was not selected will replace them and deliberation will start over. For now, after seven years of waiting for trial and three months of testimony, the family waits until a verdict is reached.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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