Jury rejects D.C. man’s insanity defense in 2010 fatal stabbing of his mother

A D.C. Superior Court jury Thursday found a Southeast Washington man guilty of second-degree murder in the May 2010 stabbing death of his mother.

After three weeks of evidence and testimony, it took the jury a little more than two days to convict Christopher Martin, 27, of killing his mother, Patricia Ann Martin, 58, in their apartment in the 4200 block of Fourth Street SE.

Prosecutors said Martin argued with his mother over money and then stabbed her repeatedly. Martin then placed air fresheners and sheets of fabric softener on her body as it decomposed in her bedroom for several days before it was discovered.

At issue in the case was Christopher Martin’s mental health. His attorneys from the District’s Public Defender Service argued that he suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and should be found not guilty by reason of insanity. The defense called several experts who testified that Martin was not responsible for his actions and should be committed to a mental hospital.

Prosecutors called their own experts, including doctors from St. Elizabeths Hospital in the District, who testified that Martin was competent to stand trial and that his mental illness was not at the core of his attack on his mother. Prosecutors said that Martin and his mother had a strained relationship and that it culminated, in part, in an argument about money.

Martin was arrested and charged with murder after a younger brother, who also suffers from mental illness, jumped from his bedroom window and ran to a neighbor’s home for help because Martin allegedly had been hitting him. When police arrived, they discovered a body that was so decomposed that a positive identification was not possible. Authorities later determined the woman’s identity based on documents and identification found in the bedroom.

Martin, a large man with a cross tattooed on his forehead and tears tattooed under his eye, often wrote in a notebook as he sat with his attorneys during the proceedings.

Judge Ronna L. Beck is scheduled to sentence Martin on Aug. 8.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.
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