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Defendant faces 51 contempt citations as child porn trial draws to close

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Closing arguments will be delivered Thursday in the raucous child pornography trial of Jeffrey Martin.

Martin, 57, opted not to testify Wednesday at the close of the three-day trial. While acting as his own lawyer, Martin was held in contempt of court 51 times by Judge Bill Yoder over two days. The sanctions were issued after Martin refused to end his repeated disruptions of the proceedings and directing insults towards the judge and prosecutor Kirk Schoenbein.

The child pornography charges stem from images found on a computer seized by police in 2016 from a home where Martin was staying in Normal. Martin faces sexual assault charges involving the elderly woman who owned the home.

The judge refused to allow the jury to hear testimony from Martin’s brother, Rodney Martin. The ruling came after the judge heard a preview of the witness’ testimony and deemed it irrelevant to the charges. In response to questions from the defendant, Rodney Martin confirmed the expensive items the woman purchased for his brother and the fact that Martin and the woman seemed to be romantically involved.

In her testimony on Tuesday, the woman said Martin refused to leave her home for 18 months and she lived in fear of his abuse.

Yoder cut short Martin’s questioning of Bloomington Police officer Joshua Swartzentruber after the defendant asked the witness if he and another officer smoked marijuana.

At the end of the day, Martin asked the judge if the state would consider a lesser charge accusing him of serving as an accomplice to a crime. Schoenbein declined, saying no evidence exists that another person was involved.

Earlier in the trial, Martin asked if the state would consider plea negotiations. “We’re not interested,” Schoenbein responded.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday.

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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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