Jury finds man guilty of killing his father

A Huntington Beach man intentionally shot and killed his father during a struggle over a gun, an Orange County Superior Court jury found Tuesday.

Jeremy Martin, 37, was convicted of one felony count of first-degree murder for shooting his father, Frederick Martin, 62, in the face on May 20, 2011.

Martin faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life. The conviction carries a sentencing enhancement for using a firearm to commit murder.

The jury deliberated for less than six hours.

Both the prosecution and defense agreed in closing arguments delivered Monday that Martin shot his dad in the kitchen of their Huntington Beach home. But the two sides diverged when it came to the central question of whether the defendant knew what he was doing at the time or whether he suffered from drug-induced delusions.

A defense attorney said that Jeremy Martin feared for his life — either because of a real or imagined threat — and killed in what the defendant thought was self-defense. However, a prosecutor argued that the defendant had formed the intent to kill and knew what he was doing when he killed his dad.

Defense attorney Stephen Daniels had suggested a verdict of either voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutor Sonia Balleste argued that while the defendant may have been under the influence of methamphetamine, he was not delusional to the point that he thought his father was trying to kill him.

Instead, she said, Martin was afraid life as he knew it — one of surfing, skating and not working — was about to be taken away by his father.

On the morning of the shooting, Jeremy and Frederick Martin got in a fight over the gun Jeremy kept in the mobile home in he lived in with his father, according to police reports.

Frederick Martin called 911 and asked for someone to evaluate his son and take away his gun. Frederick Martin reportedly didn't tell police about the earlier argument.

Jeremy Martin refused to talk to police, and the officers left. Frederick Martin left soon after the police but returned within a half hour, which is when he was fatally shot by his son, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.

Balleste said the defendant likely thought his dad was going to kick him out of their home in the Huntington by the Sea mobile-home park, and turn him in for drug possession.

The defense, however, argued that Martin was delusional and thought his father was coming home to take his gun and kill him.

"Paranoid and weird is not delusional," Balleste said. "A person can be high and commit murder; it happens all the time. Nobody is discounting that the defendant was high — we don't know, he says he was. It doesn't mean he can't form the intent to kill."

She argued that his statements to police, including "It looks like I shot him because my life was pretty much over," were evidence of his motive.

Daniels argued that Martin truly felt his father was trying to kill him during the fight.

Balleste questioned testimony by forensic psychologist Michelle L. Vorwerk, who said Martin suffered from an amphetamine-induced psychotic disorder when he shot his father.

Balleste said Frederick Martin's call to his work in the morning showed he was calmly pleading with his son to put the gun down and Jeremy Martin's call to 911 after he shot his father showed him to be "cool as a cucumber."

Balleste said Martin's actions after shooting his father don't support his claim that it was accidental.

"Fred Martin is laying on the floor bleeding to death, and if you're horrified at what you did — you don't try to see if he's alive?" Balleste said. "Don't check him, move him? He never even touched his father just to see if there was any hope of life. I can't imagine."

Jeremy Martin's sentencing is set to take place May 10 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.


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