A state appellate court panel Wednesday upheld a woman’s conviction for murdering a retired Redondo Beach police officer who was almost beheaded in a bloody attack after he hired her as a topless maid in January 2015.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that the trial court judge erred in refusing to allow jurors in Centia Renee Martin’s trial to see a video recording of her interrogation by Inglewood police after Robert Crigler’s killing.
Martin — who acted as her own attorney — wanted to play the recording instead of testifying during her trial.
“Martin could have taken the stand and told the jury her version of the events,” the appellate court justices found in their 18-page ruling. “The trial court gave Martin every opportunity to testify and tell the jury the same (or different) things she told the police in her interview, so the jury could evaluate her testimony live and under oath. Martin chose not to do.”
The appeals court panel also turned down Martin’s claim that a judge erred by initially denying her request to represent herself.
“Reviewing the entire transcript and considering Martin’s statements in context, we conclude Martin’s initial request for self-representation was not unequivocal,” the panel found.
Crigler, 74, was found dead Jan. 13, 2015, at an apartment building he managed in Inglewood.
Evidence showed that Martin nearly decapitated Crigler with a knife and repeatedly bashed him in the head with a shotgun in an attack on or between Jan. 10 and Jan. 13 that left the weapon broken, according to Deputy District Attorney Steven Gates.
Crigler’s naked body was found wrapped in a blood-stained blanket in a storage container in the back room of one of the apartment units.
Video surveillance footage and forensic evidence tied Martin to the crime, according to evidence presented during Martin’s trial.
Martin was sentenced to 35 years to life in state prison after being convicted of first-degree murder.
–City News Service
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