Northeast Tarrant

Trial starts for man accused of shooting wife in head at busy Southlake intersection

Linda Martin
Linda Martin S-T Archives

Bailee Erman and Debbie Jolley, who were Jared Jewelery employees at the time, testified Thursday during Kenneth Martin's murder trial about eating lunch at their store when they heard the sound of gunshots coming from the street.

A man was standing outside the driver's side window of a gray Jeep Rubicon holding a handgun, Erman said. The man fired the remaining rounds of the gun into the curb and then retrieved a manilla folder from a white Ford pickup behind the Jeep, Erman said.

The shooting occurred about 5:15 p.m. on May 31, 2016, at a busy Southlake intersection during rush hour. At least six eye witnesses to the shooting were called to the stand Thursday afternoon, the first day of testimony.

One witness testified that by the time Martin emptied his gun, the woman in the Jeep looked dead.

"Her face was against the window," Erman said. "He put his hand on her jaw and moved it aggressively to the right and left. With force. Then he threw the manilla folder in her face."

"He was visibly upset," Erman said. "Angry."

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

Erman was asked to step down from the witness stand and re-enact Martin's actions on the day his wife died. Art Clayton, a Tarrant County prosecutor presenting the state's case, said it looked as though Martin flung the folder in his wife's face as though someone were tossing a frisbee, and Erman agreed.

According to law enforcement, Kenneth Martin, 53, of Keller, had been angry at his estranged wife for some time.

Martin, who is accused of gunning down his estranged wife, 55-year-old Linda Martin, as she sat at a red light near Southlake Town Square, between Trader Joe's and Jared, the Galleria of Jewelry, was freed on bond soon after the fatal shooting.

Witnesses told the jury that Martin got out of his pickup, tapped on the window of his wife's Jeep, then fired at least one round into her head, shattering the glass in the street.

Martin dropped his gun on the sidewalk after the shooting where it was later found by police officers, a police video watched by the jury showed. Southlake police officers also recovered at least five shell casings that were scattered around the Jeep at the intersection Central Avenue and Southlake Boulevard.

Southlake police investigators have said in the past that Martin followed his estranged wife after meeting with an attorney about their pending divorce, and shot her as she waited for the light to change.

Linda Martin had lived Flower Mound and her husband moved to Keller after they separated.

Months before the killing, Martin got into a fight with Jason Hitt, Linda Martin's boyfriend. Friends previously told the Star-Telegram that Linda Martin became so scared of her estranged husband after the fight that she carried two guns wherever she went, hired a protective agency and stayed at hotels to hide from him.

The Martins had been in the news before, in 2004 for not being allowed to fly an U.S. flag in their Euless neighborhood because of Homeowners Association rules, and in 2005 after they claimed neighbors were harassing them with bogus complaints about their two beagles.

Testimony is expected to continue Friday in State District Judge Mollee Westfall's court.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3