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Judge rejects more delays in McLean County child pornography trial

A gavel sits on a judge's bench. On top of that photo, the words "WGLT Courts" appears.
WGLT file photo

Ready or not, after six years, Jeffrey Martin's jury trial on child pornography charges will begin Nov. 14, with the defendant serving as his own lawyer.

Martin, of Normal, is charged in two felony cases dating back to 2017 when he was arrested for allegedly raping an elderly woman with whom he was staying. During the investigation into those charges, police discovered images authorities considered child pornography on a computer Martin used at the woman’s house.

The state has chosen to first move forward with the trial on child pornography charges.

For the past five years, Martin’s cases have started and stalled as he fired private and public defense attorneys and served as his own counsel. He is routinely removed from the courtroom by judges in response to rambling arguments.

On Tuesday, Judge Bill Yoder denied Martin’s motion for more time to hire a new lawyer. The decision was part of 90 minutes filled with Martin’s lengthy diatribes and insults directed at Yoder and prosecutor Kirk Schoenbein.

Yoder granted a state motion to tell jurors about the woman’s payment on Martin’s bond in an unrelated 2014 battery case. The information is important, Schoenbein argued, because it places Martin in the woman’s home before April 2015 when the illegal images were allegedly created on the computer.

Martin said he planned to use the bond payment as proof that the woman was his girlfriend.

“I was cougared for three years,” said Martin in a reference to gifts he said he received from the woman who was about 30 years his senior.

Yoder cautioned that his outbursts won’t be tolerated at a jury trial. The proceedings will move forward, with or without Martin at the defense table.

“The state will try an empty chair,” Yoder told Martin.

Earlier this year, Springfield psychiatrist Dr. Terry Killian found Martin mentally fit to stand trial. His former lawyer who sought the psychiatric evaluation said she had concerns about her client being in the courtroom, even with court security.

Edith Brady-Lunny was a correspondent at WGLT, joining the station in 2019. She left the station in 2024.