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He's guilty of killing his wife, but jurors must now decide what 'to do with Kenny'

Kenneth Martin is guilty of killing his wife and Tarrant County jurors are now charged with deciding his sentence.

They spent three hours deliberating on Thursday before being sent home. They resume Friday morning.

Defense attorneys pleaded with the jury to be lenient.

"What Kenneth Martin did is a criminal act but Kenneth Martin is not a criminal," defense attorney Warren St. John told jurors during closing arguments Thursday. "What are you going to do with Kenny?"

Prosecutors argued for a harsher sentence.

Martin faces a prison sentence of 5-to-99 years or life for killing Linda Martin, his wife of more than 20 years. But there is a provision that allows the jury to consider a 2-to-20 year sentence if they find that Martin acted out of sudden passion when he walked up to her Jeep Rubicon as she sat at a red light in Southlake Town Square and shot her in the face.

Linda Martin, of Flower Mound, was killed in Southlake on May 31, 2016. Archive photo

Defense attorneys put a parade of witnesses on the stand who said that Martin was one of the best men they have ever known.

Martin's mother and his sister, testified on Thursday that Martin was their rock, the man they could always depend on, the man who was always there to protect them, and that it had always been that way.

Kenneth Martin file.JPG
Kenneth Martin, left, testified Monday that the fatal shooting of his estranged wife at a Southlake intersection was an accident. His murder trial continued Tuesday in a Tarrant County courtroom. Bob Booth Special to the Star-Telegram

Martin's sister, Dinah Crank, said that she suffers from Parkinson's Disease while their mother, Marie Martin, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in February. Sometimes her mother forgets how to prepare a meal or forgets where she is, Crank said.

"Mom is getting worse," Crank said.

Tarrant County prosecutor Lucas Allan, during his closing arguments, reminded the jury that whatever happened with the jury's verdict, Martin would have a life.

"Undoubtedly at this stage of the game, many of you feel sympathy," Allan said. "After seeing the tears, and after seeing the emotion."

Then Allan showed the jury a picture of Linda Martin.

"This is the only place you'll find Linda Martin, in a picture on a shelf, " Allan said.

Kenny Martin file.JPG
Kenny Martin and his wife Linda had deal with neighbors' complaints concerning their two beagles in 2005. S-T Archives

By killing his wife on May 31, 2016, Martin "brought all of this pain on his own family," Allan said. "Every morning that he wakes up is a morning that Linda Martin will never have."

St. John told the jury that prisons are made for punishment, they are not places where people get rehabilitated. Kenneth Martin does not need to be rehabilitated, St. John said.

Art Clayton, Tarrant County prosecutor, said sometimes good men do really bad things — and that comes with a price.

A sudden passion ruling from the jury is not appropriate, he argued, saying Linda Martin did nothing to inspire such passion in Martin except drive away, Clayton said.

Sudden passion is a legal term that means in the heat of the moment and sometimes men are pushed to their breaking points, said defense attorney Christy Jack said.

What remains of Martin is just a shell of a man and society has nothing to gain by putting him in prison, Jack said.

This article contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3

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