John C. Marteny, a self-professed Falls Church drug dealer convicted of murdering two Vienna-area women during a drug dispute last spring, was sentenced yesterday to 60 years in prison.
Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Lewis H. Griffith told Marteny he was "impressed with the fact that you have showed remorse."
Griffith then imposed two consecutive sentences of 20 and 40 years each for the April 18 murders of Sandra Dee Niccum, 22, and Donna Patricia Tehan, 38.
Under Virginia law Marteny, 31, will be eligible for parole in eight years.
The sentences were lighter than the 70 years that a jury had recommended Sept. 26 when it convicted Marteny on two counts of first-degree murder. Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. argued strongly for the 70-year sentence, saying he disputed Marteny's claim that he was a reformed drug addict.
"One of the fashionable approaches these days is to blame crimes on drugs," Horan said. "In fact, the only thing more fashionable is to blame them on a lot of drugs. The theory that a murderer with a drug habit is less culpable than a murderer without a drug habit is mind-boggling."
Horan has been scornful of Marteny's drug claims since he first made them and yesterday the prosecutor said in court that medical records indicate Marteny displayed none of the classic signs of drug withdrawal after his arrest.
Judge Griffith, however, appeared to be impressed by Marteny's involvement with a drug education program run by the county jail. Several jail officials said that, at his own request, Marteny had taken part in the program, designed to educate students about the dangers of drugs and criminal activity.
"My whole personal objective now is to teach kids about drug usage . . . " Marteny told the judge. "But I have yet to use that as an excuse. It's not an excuse. There is no excuse for what transpired. The only thing here is that I can use what happened to me to help others."
Marteny testified in court that he had used a range of drugs, including cocaine, heroin and amphetamines, and said he was taking $300 worth of cocaine a day at the time of the killings.
Griffin sentenced Marteny to 20 years in prison for the strangulation death of Niccum, who according to court testimony, had supplied Marteny with cocaine. The judge suspended 10 years of the sentence the jury recommended for that killing, which allegedly occurred after Niccum and Marteny argued over a debt from an earlier cocaine deal.
Griffith sentenced Marteny to 40 years in prison, as the jury recommended, for the beating death of Tehan. According to the 12-page statement Marteny gave police, he killed Tehan when she returned unexpectedly to the town house she shared with Niccum just as he was about to leave after killing Niccum.
Marteny's attorneys sought in vain to have the confession, which constituted the critical evidence against Marteny, suppressed, arguing that police obtained it in violation of Marteny's constitutional rights.
The lawyers said yesterday no decision had been made on whether to appeal the case.