Martin Reynolds murder trial day 3: Jury finds Whitehouse man guilty of murder in Tyler man’s shooting death
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A Smith County jury has found a Whitehouse man guilty in the 2017 shooting death of a Tyler man.
The jury delivered the guilty verdict on a charge of murder Wednesday night following five hours of deliberations. The jury will hear deliberations on punishment on Thursday.
Day three of the murder trial of Martin Reynolds began with testimony by an investigator with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.
Det. Josh Hill interviewed Martin Reynolds, on trial for first degree murder, after Reynolds was taken to the hospital in the aftermath of the shooting that claimed the life of Andrew Carpenter in 2017. The state played a recording of the interview, in which Reynolds gave details of events prior to the shooting, including being at a gathering with friends and drinking beer, also noting that Carpenter’s girlfriend, Alyssa Anders was present. Reynolds is heard telling Hill that Carpenter had called him vulgar names and other insults. Over the course of the interview, Reynolds stated that he went to Jarred Wells’ house where Drew was but said he only brought the borrowed gun along “for safety” and had no plan to use it. Reynolds said he felt his leg go numb after Carpenter pointed his shotgun and fired. Reynolds responded to Carpenter’s attack by firing back twice. He said he then dropped the gun at the scene before being taken in a truck to the hospital for treatment.
Reynolds could be seen crying in the courtroom as he listened to the recording.
After playing the recording, questioning of Hill resumed and he testified that Reynolds’ story changed between the first and second interviews. In the first interview, he said Reynolds told him he already had the gun out when Carpenter shot him. In the second interview, Hill said Reynolds told him that he did not have the gun displayed until after Carpenter shot him. Hill also said Reynolds did not have a permit for the gun, making it illegal for him to be carrying it.
The state had Hill read from Reynolds’ grand jury testimony in which Reynolds described the language he used toward Carpenter over the phone including racist and homophobic slurs. Hill responded “Yes” when asked if that kind of talk would anger a person.
The defense then began cross-examination of Hill. At one point, defense attorney Thad Davidson demonstrated how long it would take to pull a gun out from the backside of a person’s waist.
“Less than two seconds,” Davidson said.
Following cross examination, the state rested its case. The defense stated it will not be calling any witnesses.
As closing arguments began, state attorney Bryan Jiral reiterated that Reynolds was carrying his gun illegally as he did not have a permit to do so. He argued that Carpenter did not invite Reynolds over and stated Reynolds came to where Carpenter was looking for trouble. As noted in previous reporting, neither Reynolds nor Carpenter lived at the residence where the incident took place and neither was expressly invited to go over there that night, as per witness testimony.
Though the prosecution attempted to make clear that, legally speaking, self-defense cannot be invoked due to circumstances of the incident and Reynolds’ illegal possession of the gun, Davidson made self-defense under extenuating circumstances the centerpiece of his appeal to the jury, particularly in light of the fact that Carpenter was also in illegal possession of multiple guns he did not own and it was Carpenter who fired first.
“What was he supposed to do, Die,” Davidson asked. “If you are in that position, what are you supposed to do? You have the right to not get murdered. ... Martin Reynolds had one choice: Shoot or die. And he did it to save his life. Whatever this is, it isn’t murder.”
Giving the state’s final closing statement, Noah Coltman again argued that Reynolds was not entitled to self defense because he argues Reynolds was the aggressor.
“He went over there and took a pistol that didn’t belong to him,” Coltman said. “He’s the aggressor. He was the one breaking the law.”
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