Northeast Tarrant

Police thought there was an active shooter at Trader Joe's. Then a tragedy happened

A 2004 photograph of Linda Martin, 55, when she lived in Euless with her husband. Her husband is accused of shooting her to death on May 31, 2016, as she sat at a traffic signal light in Southlake.
A 2004 photograph of Linda Martin, 55, when she lived in Euless with her husband. Her husband is accused of shooting her to death on May 31, 2016, as she sat at a traffic signal light in Southlake. Courtesy

When police were first dispatched to Southlake Town Square on May 31, 2016, they were prepared to encounter an active shooter at Trader Joe's.

Instead, police arrived at a scene that looked more like a well-planned hit.

Kenneth Martin is accused of getting out of his vehicle on Central Avenue and Southlake Boulevard, walking up to his estranged wife’s Jeep and shooting her in the face about 5:15 p.m. after a meeting with an attorney about their pending divorce.

She was pronounced dead at a local hospital and Martin was quickly handcuffed and arrested, during a chaotic scene at the busy Southlake intersection.

Martin is on trial in a Tarrant County courtroom, charged with killing his wife.

kenneth martin3
Kenneth Martin, 53, of Keller Tarrant County Jail Courtesy

During testimony on Thursday, an officer from Southlake answering another call just minutes away, Miles Jenkins, said he arrived first at the busy intersection.

Video surveillance from Jenkins' dashcam and bodycam shows Martin standing near his estranged wife's Jeep, his weapon drawn. Jenkins immediately begins barking orders for Martin to step away from the Jeep and to get on the ground. Martin complies instantly, the video shows.

"I saw bloodstains on his hands and shirt and a weapon on the ground," Jenkins said.

Linda Martin was limp in her seat, bleeding from a gunshot wound below her left eye. A dispatcher who radioed Jenkins earlier said Martin had called 911, but hung up. Several witnesses who also called 911 testified that the line was busy so they hung up.

Another Southlake officer, Cpl. J. Macheca, handcuffed Martin as he lay facedown on the wet pavement because of the rain, and then helped the suspect sit upright, the video showed. Macheca testified Friday that he could not detect a pulse for Linda Martin and asked the dispatcher to send medics.

Paramedics detected a slight pulse when they arrived and took Linda Martin to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Grapevine, where she died a few hours later, according to testimony.

Macheca testified that the video showed the estranged husband's head and shoulders slumped, then bobbing up and down as if he were crying.

Macheca took Martin to the Southlake police station to collect samples to be used later for gunshot residue testing.

Lucas Allan, a Tarrant County prosecutor presenting the state's case, asked Macheca if the defendant said: "I don't know if it matters, but I shot her with my right hand."

To which Macheca replied: "Yes, he did."

Allan and Art Clayton, also a Tarrant County prosecutor, questioned six witnesses Friday who testified that Linda Martin was afraid that her husband would kill her one day. Linda Martin's younger sister, Cindy Church, said that she and her sister had 15 to 20 conversations in which Linda Martin expressed the fear that Kenneth Martin would take her life.

"She was so scared of Kenney she carried a gun," Church said.

Authorities found a .38-caliber revolver inside the Jeep Rubicon that Linda Martin was driving when she was killed, according to witness testimony Friday. The Saturday Night Special was found holstered in a black bag inside a large orange bag. Next to the orange bag was a manilla envelope that had a ring and a picture of a smiling couple inside.

The Martins separated in October, according to Tarrant County court documents. The couple did not have children together, though she had two from a previous marriage. She filed for divorce in November, but the petition was dismissed because it was filed in the wrong county, according to court documents.

Kenneth Martin filed divorce papers in Denton County on Nov. 24, and his wife filed a counterpetition the next day and filed for a protective order in March, according to Denton County court documents.

This story includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3

Sexual violence is a social and public health problem in the U.S. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey says nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives.

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