Jeffrey Martin, Pennsylvania

 

Update: Monday, March 21, 2016 11:53 am EDT

Jeffrey Robert Martin was scheduled to be executed at 7 pm EDT, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, at the Rockview State Correctional Institute in Rockview, Pennsylvania. His execution has been stayed. Fifty-eight-year-old Jeffrey is convicted of the rape and murder of 12-year-old Gabrielle Bechen on June 13, 2006, in Greensboro, Pennsylvania. Jeffrey has spent the last 8 years of his life on Pennsylvania’s death row.

Jeffrey's execution has been stayed by the Green County Court of Common Pleas.

Jeffrey Martin never graduated high school, dropping out after the 11th grade. He worked odd jobs and also sold marijuana. He had previously been in trouble with the law for harassing at least two young women through lewd, sexually explicit telephone calls.

Gabrielle Bechen’s parents owned a horse farm in Greensboro, Pennsylvania. They employed Jeffrey Martin to help out around the farm as a caretaker. Included among his duties was the collection and spreading of manure. On the morning of June 13, 2006, 12-year-old Gabrielle left the house on her ATV. She was reported missing by her parents after she failed to return home.

 

The Pennsylvania State Police immediately began searching for her and were soon joined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), other agencies, canine units, and civilian searchers. Interview with neighbors and witnesses revealed that she had been heading in the direction of a neighbor’s farm that she was known to have visited.

 

Police interviewed Martin on June 16, 2006. He was released later that day. The following day, police discovered the ATV Gabrielle had been riding partially buried in a creek bank, under a layer of manure. The creek bed was near a horse trail where Martin had recently spread manure. Martin was immediately arrested for tampering with evidence, giving false information, and hindering a police investigation.

 

Police told Martin that Gabrielle’s ATV had been discovered, but never told him where. Martin immediately began making excuses for being near the area. After a trooper told Martin that he had not been told the location of the ATV, Martin continued to insist “she’s not down there,” and denied knowing where Gabrielle was. Shortly thereafter, Martin invoked his right to an attorney.

 

Martin, later, speaking to a constable he knew, said, without provocation, that he could save everyone some time. He then told them that only the ATV was in the creek bed, but that Gabrielle was some place else. Martin then told the police that a “fat, bald guy in a white truck,” offered him $100 to help bury an ATV.

 

Troopers, still believing that Gabrielle was alive, pleaded with Martin to reveal her location. Martin eventually showed the police where Gabrielle’s helmet and shoes were buried. He then admitted that he could show them where Gabrielle was, but they would need a backhoe. He also told police that he had not molested the girl and that he had put lime on her body to interfere with the dogs ability to track her.

 

With the information given to them, the police were able to recover the body of Gabrielle. She had been buried more than five feet underground. Her shirt had been pulled up and her pants and underwear pushed down to her ankles. She had been sexually assaulted and manually strangled.

 

According to Martin, the morning of June 13, 2006, Gabrielle told Martin that she was, for no apparent reason, going to tell her parents that he had molested her. Martin confessed that he “panicked” and grabbed her. She ran away, but he caught her, jumped on top of her, and placed his hands around her neck until she stopped moving. He then covered her body with lime and buried her.

 

Jeffrey Martin’s execution will likely be stayed. On Friday, February 13, 2015, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a moratorium on executions in the state, until he receives and reviews a report on capital punishment in the state, a report which was ordered in 2011. In his announcement, he called the death penalty in Pennsylvania a "flawed system," "ineffective," "unjust," and "expensive." The governor will continue to issue stay of executions until all problems in the report are satisfactorily addressed. Read more about the announcement here.

 

Due to Governor’s Wolf’s decision, he has refused to sign any execution warrants. Jeffrey’s notice of execution was issued by Department of Corrections Secretary John Wentzel, which is in accordance with state law. State law requires the corrections secretary to issue an execution notice if the governor does not sign a warrant within a specific time frame.

 

Please pray for peace for the family of Gabrielle Bechen. Please pray for strength for the family of Jeffrey Martin. Please pray that if Jeffrey is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Jeffrey may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.

 

 

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