October 22, 2013
Jerry Duane Martin’s execution is schedule to occur at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas at 6 pm CST on December 3, 2013. Forty-three-year-old Jerry is convicted of killing 59-year-old Susan Canfield during a prison escape attempt on September 24, 2007. Jerry has voluntarily waived his appeals, allowing the execution to proceed. Jerry has spent the past 4 years on Texas’ death row.
On September 24, 2007, Jerry Martin and John Ray Falk, Jr., attempted to escape from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Wayne Unit, where they were both serving time for unrelated crimes. Martin was 10 years into a 50-year sentence for attempted capital murder with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and failure to appear. Falk was serving a life sentence for a 1986 murder.
Martin and Falk were on the same supervised field work detail the day of their attempted escape. Martin approached an armed officer and asked him to hold a broken watch. As the officer reached for the watch, Falk distracted him with a noise, allowing Martin to grab the officer’s gun. Martin used the weapon to hold back officers as the two climbed a barbed wire fence. Martin and Falk managed to steal a second weapon and exchanged gunfire with nearby officers.
Martin and Falk ran to a nearby parking lot and stole a City of Huntsville truck which had the keys in the ignition. Martin drove the truck and struck the horse being ridden by Correctional Officer Susan Canfield, who was attempting to stop the escape. Officer Canfield was thrown from her horse and sustained severe, life ending head injuries from striking the windshield of the truck and the ground. The horse also sustained several serious injuries and had to be put down.
Approximately one mile from where they stole the truck, Martin and Falk abandoned the truck and hijacked a motorist and her car at a bank drive through. Officers managed to shoot out the tires of the hijacked vehicle. Martin and Falk fled on foot. Falk was captured within the hour; Martin was captured three and a half hours later, hiding in a tree. Martin attempted, unsuccessfully, to hang himself the following day.
Jerry Martin was sentenced to death by a jury on December 17, 2009. During his trial, Jerry’s brother testified to his childhood. Their parents divorced while Jerry was “fairly young.” They lived with their mother, moving frequently, and did not see their father very often. Another brother, Joey, died in a fire, while Jerry was still young. His death negatively affected Jerry. Jerry attempted to commit suicide when he was eleven, and began using drugs when he was in his teens. Jerry’s mother then sent him off to live with his father. Jerry dropped out of school in the 10th grade.
Before being arrested Jerry worked in construction. While in prison, he was cleared to work, under supervision, on a farm with other inmates. Additionally, Jerry was known as an exceptional painter, working for five years on the “paint squad” at Polunsky Unit.
Earlier this year, Jerry requested that all of his appeals be dropped and that he was ready to be executed, saying “it was the right thing to do.” Jerry explained that his father died earlier this year and that “for the first time in my life I felt what it was like to lose a loved one . . . I think Mrs. Canfield’s family deserves that closure.”
Falk is currently awaiting a retrial, after his first trial ended in a mistrial.
Please pray for peace for the family of Susan Canfield. Please pray for strength and peace for the family of Jerry Martin. Please pray that Jerry may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.