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Search For Attorney Drags On For County's Longest Pending Criminal Case

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A man accused of raping an elderly woman and possessing child pornography five years ago told a judge on Friday he has not been successful in hiring a new lawyer to represent him in the county’s longest pending criminal case.

The sexual assault charges filed in 2016 against Jeffrey Martin, 56, accuse him of raping a woman with whom he was staying in Normal. According to authorities, Martin was hired by the woman to work on electronics and she allowed him to stay at her residence.

Police allegedly found illegal images on Martin’s computer during a search of the woman’s home as part of the sexual assault investigation.

Martin told Judge William Yoder on Friday that he has spoken with several lawyers recently about handling the two felonies and a third case, an aggravated battery for which the appellate court ordered a new sentencing hearing.

“It’s extremely a lot of money,” Martin said of the legal fees the cases may cost him.

Yoder set a Sept. 3 hearing to review Martin’s efforts to secure a lawyer.

Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Lawson did not object to Martin’s request for at least 30 days to hire one or more lawyers.

“You guys are great,” Martin said after the delay was approved.

During five years of proceedings, Martin has been represented by multiple lawyers who have withdrawn from his case. One lawyer claimed Martin threatened him with physical harm. In April, Bloomington lawyer Steve Skelton left the case, citing a complete breakdown in communication with his client.

Martin served as his own lawyer during several long stretches of the proceedings.

In addition to the two unresolved felonies, Martin is awaiting a new sentencing hearing on aggravated battery charges related to an altercation at a retail store. The Fourth District Appellate Court sent that case back to McLean County based on an opinion that Martin’s seven-year sentence was handed down without a proper admonishment of his right to a lawyer at the sentencing hearing.

Martin served as his own counsel at the three-day trial in 2017.

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Edith began her career as a reporter with The DeWitt County Observer, a weekly newspaper in Clinton. From 2007 to June 2019, Edith covered crime and legal issues for The Pantagraph, a daily newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois. She previously worked as a correspondent for The Pantagraph covering courts and local government issues in central Illinois.
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