Chief Arlington prosecutor William S. Burroughs has asked a judge to name a special prosecutor for the trial of Joseph N. Martin, a former Northern Virginia insurance salesman accused of hiring a man to kill an Arlington couple in 1977.

Burroughs' request Thursday to Circuit Judge Charle s S. Russell reversed his office's position and hinged on the role Burroughs is likely to play in the trial, scheduled to start in October.

Two weeks before, an assistant in the Arlington commonwealth's attorney's office told Russell that Burroughs would not be a "major witness in the case."

Burroughs said yesterday he expects to testify against Martin and does not want to run the risk of "being precluded from presenting my testimony" in case he becomes a significant witness.

In declining two weeks ago to name a special prosecutor, Russell said that if Burroughs "is going to testify to any matter...of substance then, in my view, he cannot prosecute, nor can any member of the commonwealth's attorney's staff.

Martin, 28, a Las Vegas resident free under $50,000 bond, pleaded innocent to charges he hired Richard Lee Earman to kill Alan Foreman and Donna Shoemaker. Earman, who was acquitted of murder charges after an eight-day trial, pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy charges and testified to , subsequent court hearing that he killed the couple.