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Brother sentenced for role in Bagley murder case; but woman’s killing remains unsolved

BAGLEY -- A sibling murder case from 1998 was concluded with one brother sentenced Thursday in Clearwater County Court. The other brother was acquitted of charges, and their sister's murder remains unsolved.

Todd Martin, 38, of Fosston, was sentenced to a stay of imposition of 23 months for his part in the death of his sister, Leisa Martin, 16 years ago. Martin has been placed on five years of supervised probation and must pay a $50 fine. He was convicted of aiding an offender, a felony. Upon successful completion of Martin's probation, his charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor. Martin has been credited with 198 days time served.

Leisa Martin was asphyxiated after a night of drinking with one or both of her brothers, according to witness testimony during the second-degree murder trial in January of her other brother, Troy Martin, in January. She was 31 years old. Recollection of the events leading up to her death varied from witness to witness during Troy Martin's trial.

Leisa's body was found in a wooded area near Bagley on Oct. 31, 1998. The case went cold until Todd Martin was arrested for DWI in 2010. Todd Martin told law enforcement during his arrest that he assisted his brother Troy, 42, in moving Leisa's body from their family home in Bagley. In a sworn statement to law enforcement, Todd implicated Troy as the person who caused Leisa's death.

Troy Martin was acquitted of second-degree murder in Beltrami County Court on Jan. 23.

After Todd's admission, both brothers were arrested and charged with second-degree aiding and abetting manslaughter, aiding an offender/accomplice after the fact, interference with a dead body/concealing evidence and second-degree unintentional murder.

Todd Martin pleaded guilty to aiding an offender/accomplice after the fact in 2012, but he would not be sentenced until after Troy's trial, during which Todd testified against his brother. Charges of second-degree aiding and abetting manslaughter, second-degree murder and interference with a dead body against Todd were dismissed.

Prior to proceedings in Bemidji, the Martin case went to a grand jury. The appeals court threw out an indictment against Troy Martin due to the way the case was prosecuted in Clearwater County.

Since the outcome of Troy's jury trial, people are wondering how Todd could have aided an offender who has yet to be found.

Clearwater County Attorney Richard C. Mollin explained that since Todd Martin pleaded guilty to the aiding an offender charge prior to Troy Martin being found not guilty, the charge was still valid.

"Irrespective of who caused the death of his sister ... Todd was aiding that person. He testified during trial that it was his brother, but he was assisting in disposing of her remains and that's an offense in and of itself," Mollin said. "Irrespective of if his brother was convicted or not."

Mollin said he argued to have Todd Martin charged with a level-seven offense, which would give him a maximum 54-month commitment to the Department of Corrections, a stay of execution of 12 months local confinement, a $1,000 fine, five years’ probation and a felony on his record.

Troy Martin's acquittal and three victim impact statements that were heard during proceedings in Clearwater County Court influenced the judge's decision to rank Martin's crime as a level five, carrying with it a lesser sentence.

Mollin and Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Eric Schieferdecker prosecuted the case against Troy Martin in Beltrami County, which ran from from Jan. 14 to Jan. 23. Troy Martin's trial was originally going to be in Clearwater County, but after jury questionnaire results were returned, it was moved to Beltrami County.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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