Two of McLean County's longest pending criminal cases saw another major delay on Friday with the withdrawal of Jeffrey Martin’s lawyer from his two felony cases.
Martin, 56, was charged in January 2016 with the battery and sexual assault of an elderly woman. About nine months later, Martin was charged with possession of child pornography.
Multiple attorneys have worked on Martin’s case, including private counsel and public defenders. Martin also represented himself for long periods after he asked that public defenders be removed. Judge William Yoder is the most recent judge assigned to the case.
The five-year pendency of Martin’s rape case raised a question with Yoder, who opened Friday’s hearing by asking if the cases were in the post-conviction phase, meaning he wondered if Martin had been convicted and was back in court to challenge the outcome of his cases.
Prosecutor Erika Reynolds responded that the cases are pending, adding “there’s been several attorneys.”
Bloomington lawyer Steve Skelton is the most recent attorney to leave Martin’s case. The veteran defense attorney attributed his decision to withdraw from the case to a total breakdown in communication with the defendant.
Calling his relationship with Martin “beyond unfruitful,” Skelton told Yoder “the circumstances are very unlikely to be remedied.”
Martin asked the judge for a chance to speak with Skelton, a request the lawyer declined.
Martin responded with a rambling statement about 1,600 pages and six hours of video the state may use as evidence in the pornography case.
Yoder allowed Skelton to withdraw as counsel and gave Martin until a June 9 hearing to decide if he wants to hire a new lawyer. Martin turned down an offer to have the public defender’s office assigned to his case.
The state has opted to bring Martin to trial on the child porn charges ahead of a trial on rape allegations.
Martin is accused of sexually assaulting a woman during the time he stayed at her home in Normal between August 2014 and January 2016. The two met after she hired him to work on electronics at her residence. The child porn case was filed after police collected what has been described as illegal images from a computer Martin had at the woman’s home.
Jury trials have been scheduled and cancelled in both cases. In October 2019, a lawyer asked to end his work on the case after alleged threats of physical violence from Martin.
Martin is currently serving a seven-year sentence on aggravated battery charges unrelated to his current cases.
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