UFO, talking cat defense fails; Todd guilty of murder

Published 1:14 am Saturday, October 1, 2011

Despite talks of seeing UFOs, possessing a “cigarette smoking, whiskey drinking levitating cat” and having the ability to “teleport,” Harold Elton Todd was convicted Friday of murder in the 2008 shooting death of Veronica Elizabeth Martinez.

Todd, who was represented by Donna Crooks, had pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness or defect; however, it took the eight-woman, four-man jury only 30 minutes to decide Todd intended to kill Martinez that March at the couple’s T.T. Clark Road home in Opp.

Throu-ghout the trial, Crooks never denied Todd was the shooter; instead, she classified him as an alcoholic who had no memory of the actual shooting.

Thursday’s testimony ended with details of how Todd simultaneously approached and fired a Carbine rifle at Martinez 10 times, including three times in the back, and how he confessed to the shooting no less than four law enforcement officers.

On Friday, Todd took the stand in his own defense and openly wept as he described his and Martinez’s 10-year relationship as one filled with companionship.

“She was the only woman who stayed with me for any length of time,” he said. “We were very fond of each other. (I) miss her terribly.”

He alternated between calling the shooting the “said tragedy” and “the unique thing,” while denying he had a drinking problem. He said he believed Martinez had poisoned his alcohol, which is why he had no memory of the shooting.

He said on that day, Martinez walked up behind him screaming and yelling, when, “two things happened simultaneously. One I had the clip in my right hand and the gun in my left. It was very easy to put them together. I don’t completely remember bringing them together in front of me.”

Todd said he then developed “grey, tunnel vision.”

“I could not see; I was blind,” he said. “The evidence is I shot her. The weapon was out, in my hand, so by process of elimination – I mean someone else could have been there, but that would be stretched pretty far – I have no explanation or reason to fire.

“I believe I was poisoned,” he said. “Somehow (Martinez) got it, and to the best of my knowledge, I was poisoned.”

However, previous testimony indicated otherwise.

In an effort to substantiate Todd’s claim of not reasonable by mental illness or defect, Crooks questioned him on whether or not he had ever seen a UFO; owned a cat that had “super powers” or if he believed he had the ability to teleport – to all of which he answered, “Yes.”

“You wouldn’t believe the different kinds of UFOs – not like little green men you know – that come right over Opp,” he said. “But they were more prevalent between 2006 and 2008. Various types, you know.”

When questioned about the animals, Todd admitted to owning two cats with “super powers.”

“One could talk, and Meatball – he smoked cigarettes, drank whiskey and levitated,” he said, just before demonstrating “Meatball’s” levitating ability.

When Crooks asked him if he had the ability to teleport, he said, “Yes, I do, but I cannot explain it. It’s not safe. I walked through a wall in Connecticut, and I don’t recommend it.”

He said he learned to teleport by reading books and likened the act to an out-of-body experience. With that, the defense rested its case.

Assistant Chief District Attorney Grace Jeter’s cross-examination was brief.

“Did you kill her?” Jeter asked. It was a question Todd refused to answer, and at one point, he became belligerent.

“That’s the courts job to decide,” he said. “I refuse to answer.”

“The truth is Mr. Todd, you were mad because she was screaming and you shot her,” Jeter said, to which he replied, “No.”

In closing arguments, Jeter said the “puzzle pieces” including Todd’s confessions, the crime scene, his actions after the shooting and the way he changed his story during testimony, were plenty of reasons to convict him of murder.

“Mr. Todd is selfish, egotistical and arrogant,” she said. “He described (Martinez) as the woman who stayed with him, but he shot and killed (her). He let her have it because she stayed one day too long.”

Crooks again argued Todd was drunk and never intended to murder Martinez, but the jury did not agree.

Judge A. “Lex” Short will sentence Todd on Nov. 10 at 9 a.m. He faces up to life in prison.