Walnut Creek murder suspect pleads not guilty to drug charges
“I actually trained some of the deputies here”
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#1 Dec 22, 2007
Drug deal behind Walnut Creek homicide
By John Simerman, STAFF WRITER
Article Launched: 12/21/2007
MARTINEZ -- It was a drug deal gone bad that led to the killing of a Pittsburg man whose body was found early Dec. 3 behind a Walnut Creek restaurant, according to a police affidavit unsealed today.
The victim, Eric James Martin, 30, was the buyer in the marijuana deal, said Deputy District Attorney Hal Jewett.
The man police identify as the lead suspect in the case, Jonathan Carrol Marvin of Benicia, has not been charged in the killing, which Walnut Creek police continue to investigate.
He remains at County Jail in lieu of $300,000 bail, charged on suspicion of transporting about two pounds of marijuana and possession for sale of about 10 pounds. He has pleaded not guilty to the drug charges.
Marvin, 44, who worked this fall as an assistant football coach at Benicia High School, was involved in the drug sale that led to the killing during a robbery of the victim, the affidavit states.
The affidavit, for a request to increase Marvin's bail to $500,000, said he "has admitted being present and very close by at the time Mr. Marvin was shot to death.
"Mr. Marvin is an admitted drug dealer who was intimately involved in a transaction leading to the murder of a person in our city," states the affidavit from Walnut Creek police Detective Bryan Hill.
During one call to his wife from jail, Marvin told her, "We should have left town immediately," the affidavit states.
Marvin has denied shooting Martin and claims that three other men were involved, Jewett said.
The drug deal and murder took place where Martin's body was found on Crokaerts Street, just off North Broadway, said Jewett. A worker found the body about 5 a.m. in Martin's black Acura, parked in the customer lot of Tulio's Italian Restaurant. He died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Martin ran his own drywall business and bought and sold cars, a friend said. He was the father of an infant boy.
Reach John Simerman at e-mail [email protected] .
#2 Dec 23, 2007
who knows how the meeting was set up? Who had the drugs? Was money stolen/recovered? Why didn't Jon call for help for his friend? Why aren't we getting more info...
#3 Dec 24, 2007
Good questions. Perhaps the police don't want to release too much information, because it could mess up the investigation. Who knows?
#4 Jan 8, 2008
Prosecutors say drug debt may have led to man's death
MARTINEZ: Pittsburg man delivered two pounds of marijuana to a house a week before he was found dead.
By John Simerman
STAFF WRITER Article Launched: 01/04/2008
A week before he turned up dead last month behind a Walnut Creek restaurant, Eric James Martin drove a duffel bag stuffed with at least two pounds of marijuana to a house in Benicia.
Then he became upset with himself for fronting Jonathan Marvin more pot to sell when Marvin already owed him "so much money," a Walnut Creek detective testified Thursday.
Prosecutors think that Marvin, 44, sought to settle that alleged debt in bullets.
Marvin is suspected in the killing, though police continue to investigate, and prosecutors have not charged him. He appeared in court on a pair of drug charges stemming from the search of a Vallejo storage unit that turned up about 12 pounds of marijuana, the duffel bag and a pair of rifles, according to testimony.
At a preliminary hearing Thursday, the drug charges were overshadowed by open suggestions of an upcoming murder charge in the death of Martin, whose body was found early Dec. 3, shot multiple times in the lot of Tulio's Italian Restaurant on Crokaerts Street.
Martin, 30, of Pittsburg, was the father of an infant son. He did remodeling work and sold pot, according to a roommate, Steve Suelzle, who briefly took the stand before opting for legal advice.
Walnut Creek police Detective Brian McColgin testified that Martin owned a home in the Santa Cruz mountains. A man who lives there, and who said he helped Martin grow and package pot, identified the duffel bag and some of the packed marijuana found in the storage unit, McColgin testified.
Marvin remains at County Jail in Martinez in lieu of $300,000, charged on suspicion of transporting about two pounds of marijuana and possession for sale of about 10 pounds.
A key issue at the hearing Thursday was whether Marvin should stand trial in Contra Costa County. Assistant public defender Robin Lipetzky argued that he should not, since he was not suspected of any crimes in the county.
However, Superior Court Judge Charles Burch said that Marvin was part of an ongoing conspiracy that involved driving pot between the two counties.
"You don't show up at somebody's doorstep with two pounds of marijuana and hope they can take it off your hands," the judge said.
Burch held Marvin to answer to the two drug charges. Marvin next appears in court Jan. 22.
Walnut Creek police continue to seek help in the case and ask anyone with information to call them.
Reach John Simerman at: [email protected] .
#7 Jan 30, 2008
Anyone hear anything about the Jan. 22 hearing regarding this case? What's the latest?
#8 Mar 21, 2008
Suspect in Walnut Creek homicide arraigned
Article Launched: 03/21/2008 06:46:42 AM PDT
MARTINEZ - The Benicia suspect charged in the shooting death of a Pittsburg man in Walnut Creek in December was arraigned on murder charges Thursday.
Jonathan Marvin, 34, declined to enter a plea, and will return to court to do so next week.
Prosecutors said Marvin fatally shot Eric Martin, 30, over a marijuana debt owed to Martin. Martin's body was discovered Dec. 3 in his bullet-ridden car, parked in the rear lot of a Walnut Creek restaurant.
Marvin, who recently worked as an assistant football coach at Benicia High School, was charged with murder on Wednesday but has been in jail on marijuana charges since Dec. 6.
#9 Apr 18, 2008
Go to Yahoo and type in "Jonathan Marvin Trial"...you will find a lot of reading on this case.
#10 Apr 18, 2008
Homicide suspect linked to crime scene
By Malaika Fraley Staff writer
Article Launched: 04/12/2008 12:17:09 AM PDT
MARTINEZ Homicide suspect Jonathan Marvin arranged to drop off his sport utility vehicle near the Walnut Creek parking lot where Eric Martin was shot to death Dec. 2 a few hours before the shooting, according to court testimony Friday.
"He said he wanted a ride to Walnut Creek to get his brakes and rims fixed," said Marvin's friend Ricardo Parada. "He asked if I could follow him and get a ride back."
The Vallejo resident took the stand at a preliminary hearing for Marvin, who is accused of killing Martin, a 30-year-old Pittsburg resident, because of a $10,000 marijuana debt.
Both men grew and sold marijuana, but only Martin was successful at cultivation, according to testimony. Superior Court Judge John Kennedy will decide at the close of the hearing whether the prosecution has enough evidence to try Marvin on murder charges. The hearing began Wednesday and will continue next week.
Parada said he went to Marvin's Benicia home about 8:30 p.m. Dec. 2 to collect money and he looked at his friend's rifle collection before Marvin asked for a ride. Parada said he followed Marvin to Crokaerts Street in Walnut Creek, where Marvin parked his 2007 Honda Pilot, and then drove him back to Benicia. After stopping to buy his girlfriend a Slurpee, Parada got to his Vallejo home about 10 p.m.
Evidence has yet to be presented describing how the prosecution believes Marvin returned to Contra Costa County before FasTrak recorded the vehicle traveling north across the Benicia Bridge at 11:53 p.m.
Two workers in the area reported hearing gunfire about 11:45 p.m. Dec. 2, Detective Brian McCoglin testified.
The suspect and the victim had exchanged messages, the officer said. Martin sent a text message to Marvin at 10:43 p.m. that read, "You home?" Marvin texted back at 10:44 p.m., "Still coming?" McCoglin said.
In court Thursday, deputy district attorney Harold Jewett said Marvin told several versions of his whereabouts on the night of the killing. After first denying involvement, he said he was present when three other men killed Martin. Marvin said he arranged for drug deals between the men and Martin, but did not know they were going to shoot him.
One of the men Marvin named testified Thursday that Marvin is an acquaintance he had not seen in a year and he himself was in Sacramento on the night of the killing. Jewett said he intends to prove Marvin acted alone.
"The defendant lured Eric Martin to a secluded place "... on the pretense of a drug deal and with the actual intent of killing him," Jewett said.
Judge Kennedy is considering whether Marvin's statements to police can be used as evidence against him. Deputy public defender Robin Lipetzky has argued that Marvin asked for but was not given an attorney on several occasions during police interviews and therefore the contents of the interviews should be inadmissible.
Kennedy began reviewing video of the interviews and could rule next week.
The preliminary hearing is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning.
#11 Mar 17, 2009
Jury convicts ex-Benicia High football coach of murder
By John Simerman
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 03/16/2009 03:37:21 PM PDT
Updated: 03/17/2009 06:26:26 AM PDT
A jury took little more than a day to convict a former Benicia High School assistant football coach on Monday of first-degree murder in the slaying of a fellow marijuana grower and dealer behind a Walnut Creek restaurant in late 2007.
Over a two-week trial, Deputy District Attorney Harold Jewett argued that Jonathan Marvin, 35, coaxed his friend and business partner, Eric Martin, of Pittsburg, to the parking lot on Crokaerts Street, shot him five or six times to free himself from a debt of more than $10,000, then repeatedly lied to police while implicating others in the murder.
Jewett played for the jury of seven men and five women more than 10 hours of police interview tapes in which Marvin repeatedly changed his story. Marvin first denied being at the crime scene, but FasTrak toll records showed that he had driven north across the Benicia Bridge less than 10 minutes after the shooting. He then told police he was there but did not see the killing, then admitted witnessing it.
"The jury saw those fabrications for what they were," Jewett said after Monday's verdict.
Deputy Public Defender Robin Lipetzky acknowledged Marvin's lies, but she described them as "very stupid decisions" aimed at protecting himself from the real killer. She characterized the two men as good friends with no bad blood between them, arguing that the prosecution's case amounted to a character assassination, with no evidence to prove that Marvin was the killer.
Lipetzky could not be reached Monday.
Marvin faces 25 years to life in prison on the murder conviction when he is sentenced May 22, and another 25 years to life for the use of a firearm in the killing.
When police found Martin's body in the early morning of Dec. 2, 2007, it lay half inside his car in a restaurant parking lot off North Broadway, near a gym that Marvin frequented. Jewett characterized Marvin as a hapless marijuana grower whose crop had gone to mold. He said the relationship between the two men, who had shared an affinity for cars as well as pot growing, had grown strained over the debt. Jewett showed the jury a casual text message that Marvin sent to the dead man minutes after the slaying, calling it a clear effort by Marvin to cover his tracks.
"Jonathan Marvin was feeling hounded, and Eric Martin was feeling frustrated by the amount of money owed him," Jewett said. "I would characterize them more as business partners than friends at that point."
Martin, who grew marijuana in the Santa Cruz Mountains, left behind a girlfriend and an infant son.
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