Waldorf man gets life term in shooting of pregnant girlfriend

A Waldorf man was ordered imprisoned for life Tuesday for trying to kill his pregnant girlfriend — a hairdresser who prosecutors said refused his demand to have an abortion — at her home in Crofton.

"I got my early Christmas present," Jodi Torok said after seeing her former boyfriend, Charles Brandon Martin, sentenced to life in prison by an Anne Arundel County judge.

"I believe you were willing to snuff both of them out because they were an inconvenience to you," Judge Pamela L. North told Martin, in a reference to Torok and her unborn child, before sentencing him.

Prosecutors depicted Martin, 33, as a ruthless would-be killer and alleged two murder plots centered on him.

They said another man, Jerold Raymond Burks, shot Torok in October 2008 to work off a $400 drug debt to Martin. But a jury found Burks not guilty on all charges. A different jury convicted Martin of attempted murder and related charges in May but not of soliciting the crime.

On Tuesday, prosecutors said that within weeks of his conviction, Martin wrote a letter from jail for "Li'l D," unleashing another plot — to pin the shooting on another girlfriend. Martin wanted Burks to tell authorities that the other girlfriend, not Martin, tried to kill Torok, said Assistant State's Attorney Anastasia Prigge. She said the plan also called for Burks to be killed.

Prosecutors believed the girlfriend, identified in the letter as Maggie, was Margaret McFadden, whom Martin had been accused of trying to intimidate while he was awaiting trial.

Jail officials intercepted the letter. Over objections by Martin's lawyer, it was authenticated as Martin's and used by prosecutors as evidence that the judge should sentence Martin to life instead of a shorter term within state guidelines.

After the hearing, Prigge said the letter "shows that he will stop at nothing to save himself."

Prigge and Crighton Chase, another assistant prosecutor, declined to speculate on whether McFadden played a role in Torok's shooting. She was not charged in the case.

Leonard Stamm, Martin's attorney, said he would appeal the verdict and seek a sentence reduction. He has contended that his client is innocent.

"In my heart, I know that Brandon did not do this," said Martin's mother, Doris Martin.

His wife, Carissa Martin, depicted him as a mostly stay-at-home father who did not miss a pediatrician appointment, school conference, game or recital. She said he coached basketball and helped youths stay in school, and that many of those young people have helped her since her husband was accused in Torok's shooting.

Martin has four children with his wife and two outside his marriage. He was believed to have three or more girlfriends at the time of Torok's shooting. He did not speak during the sentencing.

Prigge said Torok had no idea Martin was married. When Torok told Martin that she was pregnant, he wanted her to have an abortion, according to allegations made at his trial. She refused. Torok was not positive that he was the father.

One afternoon, she answered her door to a person who shot her with a gun that had a silencer made out of a Gatorade bottle, according to trial testimony. DNA from the bottle pointed to Martin to the exclusion of 99 percent of the world population, an expert testified.

As Torok clung to life, the baby was aborted. In a written statement, Torok said she fears that "someone will come after me to finish what was done" and that the assault has been an emotional and financial blow to her family, with whom she lives in Pennsylvania.

Torok is in a wheelchair and receives extensive physical and occupational therapy.

"My main focus right now is on getting up and walking, whether it be with a walker or with canes," she said.


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