WARREN - Attorneys for accused murderer David Martin want a judge - and not a jury - to decide whether their client is innocent or guilty of having weapons under disability.
And Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan said Friday he is inclined to listen to evidence in Martin's capital murder trial set for Jan. 22, 2014, and let a jury decide innocence or guilt on the murder while he decides the lesser weapons charge.
Martin's attorneys filed the unusual motion among a dozen others that were heard Friday, leading up to the next pre-trial June 7.
Defense attorneys Greg Meyers, Matt Pentz and David Rouzzo said they don't want jurors to be prejudiced by knowing Martin has a prior criminal record and can't legally handle a gun.
County prosecutors Chris Becker and Gabe Wildman still say jurors selected will be well aware of the fact that murder victim Jeremy Cole was shot to death while tied up in a home on Warren's southwest side. And the prosecutors expect to show that it was Martin, 28, who killed Cole, 21.
No fewer than nine deputies were scattered about Logan's courtroom Friday morning for the pre-trial in the murder case since during the last pre-trial in December, Melissa Putnam, 29, who survived the attack last September, verbally lashed out at Martin, while he was seated in the jury box in the same courtroom.
Martin also was seen quietly antagonizing Putnam, of Warren, from across the courtroom at the December proceeding.
Putnam, Cole's friend, was quickly removed from the courtroom when deputies arrived.
Cole was shot in the head and Putnam was shot in the hand. The bullet traveled through her hand into her neck, and she spent several days in the hospital.
Police initially never reported that both Cole and Putnam were tied up and placed in different rooms at 2220 Oak Circle S.W. during the apparent robbery. Martin allegedly made Putnam tie up Cole at gunpoint then Martin tied up Putnam, who didn't attend Friday's hearing.
Other motions also dealt with defense psychological experts and mitigation experts to assist defense attorneys in the case.
Meyers also convinced Logan to order the sheriff and jail officials to prevent anyone other than those authorized by defense attorneys to speak with Martin. He said it was learned that agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spoke with Martin since he was arrested. Even though the conversation was unrelated to the murder case, Meyers wanted to limit visitors to the defendant inside the jail.
Martin was indicted in October on charges of aggravated murder with the death penalty specifications and attempted aggravated murder.
Martin also faces firearms specifications on both charges as well as counts of aggravated robbery, kidnapping and a repeat violent offender specification, having weapons while under disability, receiving stolen property because it is alleged he used a stolen gun, and tampering with evidence because he tried to burn his clothes.
Detectives confirmed that money was stolen from Putnam's purse by the gunman.
U.S. Marshals arrested Martin on Oct. 16 in Tallmadge.
A detective said Cole and Putnam knew Martin, but weren't aware of his name. Putnam reportedly told detectives Martin had been in the house before. Another detective said Martin has a prior criminal record and had served prison time out of Cuyahoga County for robbery and felonious assault.