Fort Worth

Jury finds man guilty of murdering his estranged wife in Southlake. Sentencing is next

After deliberating for two days, a jury found Kenneth Martin guilty of murder in the killing of his estranged wife, shooting her as she sat in a Jeep in Southlake Town Square.

Martin claimed the shooting was accidental and his attorneys argued that he should have been found guilty of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide. Jurors deliberated since Tuesday afternoon in the high-profile case and reached a decision around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The sentencing phase of the trial will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday in 371st State District Court.

Martin was accused of walking up to the Jeep that Linda Martin was sitting in while at a red light on the afternoon of May 31, 2016, and shooting her in the face. The two had just left a divorce mediation meeting with an attorney.

She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Several people, including the slain woman's daughter, testified that they love Martin and believe that he accidentally shot his wife of more than 20 years.

But in closing arguments, Tarrant County prosecutors argued that Martin suffered from selective memory.

Here "we have the 'I forgot' defense," said Lucas Allan, Tarrant County assistant district attorney.

Martin can "remember everything up until the point where I go grab my gun," Allan said. "Then, he can't remember when he tells his daughter, 'I shot her. I shot her.' "

Linda Martin file.JPG
Linda Martin, of Euless, was asked to take down the U.S. flag that hangs on a fence beside her home, between the house and the garage. The request came from her homeowners association. She had also been asked to get permission to place a wood bench on the porch in front of her home. Stewart F. House Star-Telegram

Martin's defense attorneys argued that, at most, he is guilty of criminally negligent homicide.

To convict Martin of murder, jurors had to believe that he meant to kill his wife, and he has steadfastly maintained that he did not mean to kill her, according to Christy Jack, one of his defense attorneys.

It was a horrible accident, Martin said during testimony.

"If he wanted to kill her, why do it in the middle of Town Square, in broad daylight in front of 50 witnesses?" Jack asked the jury.

But Art Clayton, the lead prosecutor in this case, said Martin's rage had been building for months and that he could no longer control it. Martin testified Monday that he was attacked by his wife's boyfriend one day when he surprised them at the house in Flower Mound that his wife forced him to leave.

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Kenneth Martin is seen here awaiting a verdict in his murder trial. Mitch Mitchell

The boyfriend drew blood during that attack, according to Martin's testimony.

Linda Martin disrespected him and he was going to be respected, Clayton told the jury.

"He told the detective over and over that he shot her," Clayton told the jury. "He can remember putting his gun in his truck without arming the safety, but he can't remember the facts of the case. "

For years, Linda Martin told friends and relatives that she was afraid her husband would kill her, Clayton said.

"He's been living on borrowed time while Linda Martin lies in the grave," Clayton said. "He stood right in front of her, looked her right in the eye and snuffed the life from her."

Clayton said Martin called himself the fixer, the mechanic.

"He fixed her," Clayton said.

This article contains information from Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3