Recommended sentence reversal for convicted arsonist concerns family members

‘What is to say that he wouldn’t come to our house? Come track us down?’
Butch Martin reversal: full story
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 2:53 PM CST
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - In 1999, Garland “Butch” Martin was convicted of three counts of capital murder and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences, after his wife, Marcia Martin, and two children were killed in a house fire in their Midland home.

Now, 23 years later, Midland County Judge David Rogers has recommended Butch’s sentence be reversed, and that he get a new trial.

CBS7′s Mary Kate Hamilton spoke to a family member about what changes for her if a closed chapter is reopened.

“Since all of this has come up, it’s opening up new wounds. And so stuff that we didn’t think we were going to ever have to worry about, now we’re possibly going to have to worry about.”

Brittney Freeman is Marcia Martin’s daughter. She was just seven years old when her mother and two half-siblings were killed.

“I have to live with never being able to have that relationship with my mom and with my brother and my sister. So if he was found guilty, I would ask him why.”

Brittney lived with her father and step-mother in Fort Worth. It wasn’t until years later that she knew what happened to her family.

“I think I was about 12 or 13 years old when I understood that this was a malicious act. Like it’s not like she just burned in a fire, like someone purposely set that fire.”

Mary Kate: “At the time, did you believe that it was Butch?”

Freeman: “Yeah. Growing up that’s all I had ever been told.”

The Texas Innocence Project has since picked up the case, claiming that arson science has developed, among other loopholes in the case.

Judge Rogers agreed: this case needs to be retried.

Butch’s attorney Allison Clayton released a statement saying quote: “This was a horrible tragedy compounded by a wrongful conviction. When science evolves, we must evolve with it.”

Butch Martin maintains his innocence, saying quote: “I loved my babies more than anything in the world. Being wrongly blamed for their deaths all this time is a pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone.”

Freeman says the thought of Butch being released after all these years is unsettling.

“This causes a lot more stress for the family who thought this was all over with. I’m now a mom of two girls and obviously I don’t think that he’s playing with a full deck of cards. So what is to say that he wouldn’t come to our house? Come track us down? Come to our house? That’s what makes it very uneasy for me.”

This case will now move to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. CBS7 will continue to follow it.