Murder trial resumes today

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 30, 2011

Tears rolled down Veronica Martinez’s daughter’s face Thursday as she listened to testimony begin against the Opp man charged with her mother’s 2008 shooting death.

Harold Elton Todd , who is standing trial for Martinez’s death, appeared calm throughout the day as the state, represented by Chief Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter and ADA Emmett Massey, presented their case.

Todd and Martinez had lived together for 10 years and had relocated locally from Connecticut.

The couple’s neighbors – one of whom discovered Martinez shot to death – as well as forensic experts and the chief investigator in the case testified for the state.

In opening arguments, Jeter revealed that Todd confessed to the shooting to no less than four people – including Sheriff Dennis Meeks – before being officially charged with one count of murder.

“(Todd) admitted he shot (Martinez) because she complained about everything, and he couldn’t take it anymore,” Jeter said. “He said she wouldn’t stop mouthing off, and he let her have it.”

Todd’s defense attorney, Donna Crooks, never denied Todd was the shooter; however, she classified him as an “alcoholic,” who “quite likely” pulled the trigger, but had never intended to murder Martinez.

She said Todd had a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.2 – more than three times the legal limit.

Harold Elton Todd

“Separate yourself from his admissions, the gun and (Martinez’s) death,” Crooks told jurors. “Determine if there was any criminal intent to do what was done. He may be guilty of something, but not murder.”

Testimony is expected to resume today at 8:30 a.m., and according to Crooks’ opening arguments, Todd is expected to take the stand in his own defense.