A Virginia judge yesterday rejected a Las Vegas man's pleas that Arlington prosecutor William S. Burroughs had tricked him into making incriminating statements about a 1977 double murder.
Arlington Circuit Court Judge Charles S. Russell refused to dismiss murder conspiracy charges against Joseph N. Martin or to disquality himself from presiding at the Nevada man's trial Oct. 22.
Burroughs, who testified before Russel yesterday, "acted in good faith" when he had Martin indicted earlier this year on the murder conspiracy charges, the judge ruled. The charges grow out of the execution-style slaying of Northern Virginia real estate salesman Allan Foreman and Foreman's fiance, Donna Shoemaker, in the garage of a North Arlington home.
A former insurance salesman, Martin was arrested in 1977 along with Richard Lee Earman, a real estate salesman, and charged with murdering the couple. The charges against Martin were suddenly dropped during Earman's trial and Earman later was acquitted of the murder charges.
Burroughs earlier this year won indictments of both Earman and Martin on murder conspiracy charges in the couple's deaths. Earman has testified that he killed the couple and is awaiting sentencing.
Martin, 28, has pleaded innocent to the charges.
Martin's version of his meetings with Burroughs differed sharply from prosecutor's. He quoted Burroughs as telling him at one point: "It should be obvious to you that I'm not going to prosecute you in the Earman case."
Martin said that promise prompted him to volunteer to take a polygraph test on the Earman case with the understanding that he -- not the police -- would provide the questions.
But Martin said when he arrived at police headquarters in Arlington he found himself faced with a longer list of questions and he refused to take the test. "I think Mr. Burroughs is trying to trick me," Martin said he told a friend at the time.
In testimony yesterday, Burroughs said that he never had promised Martin immunity from prosecution. "I have never told Mr. Martin that he would not be prosecuted in connection with the murders," Burroughs stated. "I don't recall that I specifically promised him anything."
Burroughs also said that he did not initially "suspect" Martin of committing the murders during the course of the second investigation that led to Martin's reindictment. "I didn't expect Martin to incriminate himself," Burroughs said.
Despite that incident and Martin's subsequent move west, he said he continued to remain in contact with the prosecutor. Their meetings, Martin said, began in November 1977 shortly after Earman's acquittal.
Martin said he was troubled by his role in three Fairfax County burglaries he had committed with Earman in 1977. "I really wanted to get something off my chest," Martin testified.
Yesterday's court hearing did not pinpoint the evidence that led Burroughs to seek the new indictment. However, Burroughs did say yesterday that Martin had told him of a telephone conversation he had with Earman shortly after the deaths of the Arlington couple.
In that conversation, Martin said Earman had informed him of the couple's deaths even though police had not yet discovered their bodies, the prosecutor said.
Earman testified earlier this year that Martin had approached him about killing the couple so Martin could collect on a $56,000 life insurance policy he had sold Foreman. Earman said Martin offered him $15,000 to arrange the murder, but that he decided to kill Foreman himself to save the costs of hiring a "hit man."
Because Burroughs is expected to be a significant witness against Martin, Judge Russell has named a special prosecutor, Donald S. Caruthers, to handle the case. Caruthers yesterday made his first appearance in the case, representing Burroughs' office.