Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney William S. Burroughs dropped murder charges yesterday against Joseph N. Martin, one of three men indicted in the slaying of an Arlington couple last May.

Maritn then testified for the prosecution at the jury trial of Richard Lee Earman, only man still under indictment in the slayings of real estate salesman Alan W. Foreman and Foreman's fiancee, Donna Shoemaker.

Burroughs denied that the charges against Martin were dropped in exchange for his testimony. "I believe him to be innocent," the prosecutor declared. Martin said in court he had passed a polygraph (lie detector) test.

Two weeks ago Burroughs dropped murder charges against Charles Silcox in the slayings of Foreman and Shoemaker for lack of evidence.

The couple was found shot to death in Foreman's yellow Jaguar in the garage of his home at 1201 N. George Mason Dr.

In his testimony yesterday, Martin said that the day the bodies were found he discovered an anonymous note in the front seat of his car. It warned, he said, that Foreman and Shoemaker had been killed and if he (Martin) "mentioned any names," Martin and his wife, Stephanie, also would be killed.

Martin told the Jury he burned the note because "I couldn't think straight. I didn't know what to do. I was in terror."

He said he talked to Earman the day the bodies were found and asked him what he knew about the slayings. Earman told him, Martin testified, that "Alan was a cocaine dealer and that he was into a loan shark named McGowan."

Martin said Foreman had told him previously that he "wanted to impress a gentleman named McGowan." In other testimony, McGowan was identified as David A. (Shags) McGowan, who was convicted earlier this year, according to a federal prosecutor, of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and of several racketeering charges.

The prosecution has said it believes Foreman was killed in order to collect on a $56,000 life insurance policy written by Martin, naming Silcox as th beneficiary.

In his testimony, Martin said Foreman had asked him "if I knew anybody who would say they loaned me money and that I was to say I had loaned him (Foreman) money."

Martin said he then raised $3,500 from friends for what he believed to be a real estate venture and that Foreman seemed disappointed by the amount, and asked him if he could make it seem like more.

Martin said Foreman also requested that the beneficiary on his life-insurance policy be changed from his mother to Silcox so that the policy would look like collateral on a much larger loan.

He testified that someone did call him to aske him if he had lent money to Foreman but that the caller did not identify himself. Under cross-examination by defense attorny John K. Zwerling, Martin said he was positive that the anonymous caller was not Earman. Martin also told the jury that Earman first learned of Foreman's life-insurance policy from Martin.

After he left the witness stand, Martin said he didn't think that the impact of the charges against him being dropped had "really hit me. I didn't get the big press conference and everything," Burroughs announced at a press conference Sept. 13 that the charges against Silcox would be dropped.

Martin said that although he felt "great" that the charges were dropped, the three months since he was indicted had "put a dent in my life financially and emotionally. It's a shame that people's lives get messed up that way.

"Do you think that some people's minds are ever going to be changed about me? After reading some of the stuff they wrote about me in the newspaper, even I got scared and I knew it wasn't true."

martin was suspended from his job as a salesman for the New York Life Insurance Co. last July pending the outcome of his trial. He said he has gone to work for a company dealing in new and used cars in Fairfax.

The prosecution concluded presentation of its evidence yesterday after the jurywas taken to see Foreman's blood-smeared Jaguar.