September 17, 2008
WAYNESBURG (KDKA/AP) ― A farmhand has now been formally sentenced to the death penalty today for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl on a southwestern Pennsylvania horse farm.
A Greene County jury found 51-year-old Jeffrey Martin guilty in May and found he deserved execution for killing Gabrielle Bechen on June 13, 2006.
In Pennsylvania, a death sentence must be formally imposed by a judge.
KDKA's Harold Hayes reports that the judge in the case has declared Martin a sexually violent predator. Martin's daughter testified at the hearing that she was molested by her father at the age of six.
Martin testified as well.
In 2006, Bechen disappeared while riding her all-terrain vehicle at a Greensboro horse farm where Martin worked.
Her body was found buried on the farm five days later.
Martin denies killing Bechen.
He says a man came to the farm with a body and the ATV and offered him $100 to help bury the vehicle.
November 6, 2009
Man facing death penalty loses appeal for killing 12-year-old girl
A farmhand facing the death penalty for killing a 12-year-old Greene County girl lost an appeal for a new trial after his public defender failed to file a memorandum supporting his claims.
Jeffrey Martin's post-sentence motions regarding his first-degree murder conviction in the death of Gabrielle Bechen were denied yesterday in an order by Greene County Senior Judge H. Terry Grimes.
First Assistant District Attorney Linda Chambers said prosecutors waited for more than a year for Martin's attorney, Harry Cancelmi, to file the memorandum supporting his Sept. 29, 2008, motions for a retrial.
Among Cancelmi's contentions were that Grimes, the trial judge, made several erroneous decisions, Chambers said.
At one point in June, Grimes suggested in an order that Cancelmi could face a $100-a-day sanction because of his delay in filing, but the penalty never was imposed, according to court records.
Cancelmi was not available for comment Friday because he was at a conference, according to the Greene County public defender's office.
With the judge's ruling, Cancelmi now will have a month to appeal Martin's case to the state Supreme Court, Chambers said. In Pennsylvania, defendants given the death penalty get an automatic appeal to the state's highest appellate court to review whether the evidence is sufficient to support the guilty verdict and sentence.
Chambers opposed Martin's motions in a brief filed Monday.
"The procedure of having the commonwealth file their memorandum before the defense is not addressed by the rules of court," Chambers said in a statement. "However, something had to be done to move this case to the Supreme Court for its review. It is not fair to the parents of the victim or to the defendant, for that matter, to allow the case to linger indefinitely."
Jurors convicted Martin, 52, of New Geneva, Fayette County, in May 2008 of the June 2006 rape and murder of the girl on a Dunkard Township farm.
Martin confessed to raping Gabrielle and burying her in a shallow grave, but the defense claimed that his statements were coerced by police. He told investigators he killed the girl after she threatened to tell her parents about the sexual assault.
On the witness stand, Martin claimed Gabrielle was murdered by an unidentified person who drove a white pickup truck and offered him $100 to help dispose of the all-terrain vehicle she was riding by burying it, too.
Besides the death penalty, Grimes sentenced Martin to another 23 to 46 years for other crimes, including rape, involved in the case.
i will be happy when his day comes gabby i love u and miss sissy
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