The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

August 10, 2012

Families oppose parole for killer

From staff reports

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Local residents have received some backing — and are looking for more — in their effort to keep behind bars a man convicted of killing their relatives in two separate robberies 37 years ago.

A parole hearing is set for Aug. 23 for John Steven Martin, formerly of Carthage

Then 19, Martin was assessed a second life sentence in April 1976 after he was convicted of in the death of Leroy Spencer, 24, during a robbery of a Rolla service station. In March 1975, a life sentence was imposed in Jasper County after Martin was convicted of kidnapping and killing Carthage liquor store owner James Stemmons after robbing his business.

At the time, Martin’s sentence was the most stringent available, but the two life sentences left open the possibility of parole. The families are asking area residents to register their objection via an on-line petition under the heading “Justice for James Stemmons” or by writing to the parole board. Letters can be mailed to the state victim services coordinator who works with the parole board at : Carol Meyer, Division of Probation and Parole, 1511 Christy Drive., Jefferson City, 65101, or via e-mail at