Relatives of the victims are happy that their efforts will keep a convicted murderer behind bars, but are disappointed they will have to repeat the process in three years.
Patricia Brigman, of Carl Junction, said family members were notified Thursday that John Steven Martin, convicted of killing their relatives in separate robberies 37 years ago, will remain behind bars.
Victims’ relatives testified Aug. 23 at Moberly Corrections Center as part of a parole hearing for Martin, formerly of Carthage, arguing against his release from prison. Another hearing will be held in three years, though the parole board could have pushed that deadline back as far as five years, Brigman said.
“I’m in disbelief his parole is not for the maximum of five years,” she said, noting Martin had been convicted twice of first-degree murders.
Martin was 19 years old in April 1976 when he was assessed a second life sentence after he was convicted 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.
Brigman, the sister of Leroy Spencer, said she was unable to attend the hearing because of an illness in her family. She said she sent a letter of opposition and other materials, which were presented by Debra Stemmons Smith, of Kansas City, who is the oldest daughter of James Stemmons.
“They also presented an online petition that had been signed by about 1,500 people,” she said.
At the request of the families, a letter opposing parole also was sent from the office of Dean Dankelson, Jasper County prosecuting attorney. The prosecutor noted that Martin’s crimes — two murders arising out of two robberies — would have made have made him ineligible for parole under current law.
Brigman said the victims’ families had urged the parole board to keep Martin behind bars for the longest possible term, which would be five years.
“It’s painful that we have to go through this every three years and that this is the way we have to remember them. That we have to remember their death, and not their life,” she said.
Brigman said her brother was shot Oct. 16, 1974, when he had stopped at a service station in Rolla. She said the station attendant was shot three times and survived.
Martin was convicted of killing Stemmons in a liquor store robbery in Nov. 21, 1974. After taking money, robbers forced Stemmons into his pickup truck and drove to a wooded area southeast of Carthage, where Stemmons was shot once in the back and three times in the head.
Two others were convicted in connection with the Carthage crime. They served three-year sentences and were released.
- Local News
Sheriff’s funds to pay for two building projects
Jasper County’s general fund budget may pay some initial costs for renovating and constructing two county buildings, but the final bill for the projects will come from law enforcement sales tax funds.
Pittsburg crews work to repair storm damaged Schlanger Park
City crews using heavy equipment spent Thursday cleaning up Schlanger Park after a storm tracked through Monday night.
No charges to be filed in Joplin shooting case
The nonfatal shooting of a 25-year-old man at a Joplin residence on May 13 has been deemed justified by authorities. Jacob B. Boykin, 21, of Joplin, shot Justin S. Johnson, 25, of Carterville, once in the chest with a small-caliber handgun at 5260 E. Sunny Acres Lane.
Mike Pound: DVD smells like pizza; how great is that?
Just when I think the rest of the world is passing us by, this great country does something that renews my faith in innovation. It does something that renews my faith in that can-do spirit that led Charles Lindbergh to fly nonstop across the Atlantic, thus leading to the invention of the airplane bathroom.
Joplin Board of Education to decide fate of East Middle School teacher
After hearing nearly 10 hours of testimony from more than a dozen witnesses and accepting more than 45 exhibits into evidence, members of the Joplin Board of Education voted to move behind closed doors Thursday night to decide whether Randy Turner, a communication arts teacher at East Middle School, will continue to teach.
Memorial Day travelers bemoan high gas prices
Norm Hayward and his wife, Claudia, have a couple of things going for them as they continue their increasingly expensive motor home trip around parts of the United States. For starters, the Phoenix, Ariz., couple are saving on hotel costs.
Cunningham Park vandalism estimated at $4,000
Vandals caused an estimated $4,000 worth of damage in Cunningham Park, draining the pool in the aquatic center of about 200,000 gallons of water and throwing some large landscaping rocks into the reflecting pond.
Joplin team drove through storm to get to Moore
It was a long drive in the middle of a severe thunderstorm that had earlier produced a massive tornado in Moore, Okla. With the two-year anniversary of Joplin’s deadly twister approaching on Wednesday, a team of 14 Joplin emergency workers was ready to risk the trip in order to get help to a hurting Moore.
Cunningham Park vandalism bill estimated at $4,000
The city estimates that vandals caused about $4,000 worth of property damage in Cunningham Park, draining the swimming pool of 200,000 gallons of water and moving some large landscaping rocks into the reflecting pond.
Content of book, students' access to it at issue in hearing for suspended teacher
A standing-room only crowd is present at the hearing this morning to decide the fate of suspended Joplin Middle School teacher Randy Turner, who has asked for the hearing before the board of education.
- More Local News Headlines
- Sheriff’s funds to pay for two building projects