Laurel man sentenced to 16 years in prison for wife's murder

Laurel resident Jason W. Martin was sentenced to 16 years in prison Tuesday for murdering his wife, Carla Dee Martin.

Martin, 43, entered an Alford plea in November, meaning the defendant does not admit to guilt but agrees the state has enough evidence to convict him. Earlier this month, Martin had a three-day sentencing hearing before Howard County Circuit Court Judge Richard S. Bernhardt, who announced the sentencing on July 18.

Police were called to the Martin residence in the 9500 block of Glen Ridge Road at 11 p.m. in October 2015 after a neighbor reported Martin coming to his front door covered in blood, accompanied by his children, ages 12, 8 and 6, who were sleeping at the time of the killing. The neighbor said that Martin told him, "I think I killed Carla," and that Martin said he hit her with a dumbbell during a fight.

During the November plea hearing, Assistant State's Attorney Devora Kirschner said the neighbor went to Martin's basement, where he found Martin's wife on the floor unresponsive with a pulse. Carla Martin was taken to Laurel Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

On Tuesday, criminal lawyer James Papirmeister, who represented Martin, described the case as "fascinating" because it defied the conventions of a typical second-degree murder case. Martin and his wife both had doctorates from Cornell University, he said, and worked at the National Security Agency with top-secret clearances.

"The relationship between my client and his beloved wife — and I use that word very aptly and poignantly — defied all typicality in terms of who a victim would be," Papirmeister said. "There was no history of criminal behavior by my client; no history of violence; and no history of domestic abuse. As a matter of fact, their marriage was quite strong, loving and good."

Thirty witnesses testified during the sentencing hearing, and Howard County police reviewed texts, emails and other electronic media between Martin and his wife and "found nothing but a loving relationship between a husband and wife."

Papirmeister said that Neil Blumberg, of Forensic Psychiatry Associates in Lutherville-Timonium, diagnosed Martin with post-traumatic stress disorder, which was caused by alleged child abuse by his father more than 25 years ago. An expert for the prosecution did not agree with the diagnosis but stated Martin had a "rage-induced response."

Although the prosecution sought the maximum prison sentence of 30 years, Bernhardt sentenced Martin to 16 years in prison, five years of supervised probation after his release as well as mental health evaluation and treatment.

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