Fort Worth

Man who gunned down wife in Southlake gets 20 years in prison

A man who shot his estranged wife in the face, killing her, nearly two years ago at a busy Southlake intersection was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.

The punishment stage of Kenneth Martin's trial began Thursday in state District Judge Mollee Westfall's court. The jury deliberated about three hours Thursday and then returned Friday morning and delivered their sentence about noon.

Martin had faced up to life in prison after being convicted of murder in the high-profile case earlier this week.

"The evidence over the past two weeks has shown that Kenny Martin is not the monster the state portrayed him to be," said Christy Jack, one of the attorneys for the defense. "After catching his wife in the arms of another man and nine months of her attempt to destroy him, he reached his breaking point.

"The jury recognized that," Jack said. "That's what trials are for, revealing the truth."

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

Martin, 53, of Keller, was accused of walking up to the Jeep that Linda Martin was sitting in 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.

Linda Martin, 55, of Flower Mound, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

“Linda Martin’s death was a selfish and senseless act of violence," said Art Clayton, Tarrant County lead prosecutor in this case. "Linda was boxed in at a red light when he walked up to her car and shot her in the face. "

"These are the cowardly acts of an angry man who lost control over many aspects of her life," Clayton said. "In killing her, he destroyed the lives of everyone around him. His rage stands as a betrayal to everyone who ever showed him kindness. Her children, grandchildren, and friends will never be able to look her in the eyes, hear her voice or hold her in their arms. We hope they find peace and closure.”

Martin will be eligible for parole in 10 years, Clayton said.

This fight is not over, according to J. Warren St. John, lead attorney for Martin's defense.

"Kenny Martin is distraught over the final verdict of the jury," St. John said. "He loved his wife dearly and never thought he would go to prison over something he never intended to do, which was causing her death. He has filed a notice of appeal with the court of appeals and will fight vigorously to overturn the verdict."

Linda Martin's two children each testified for different sides in this legal battle. Linda Martin's daughter, Amy Delk, was called by defense attorneys and testified that she loved her stepfather and that her mother treated him badly during their divorce.

Her brother, Wade Delk, was called by prosecutors. Wade Delk said he and Martin were never really close, barely spoke, and that he did not remember Martin trying to help him while he was growing up or after he matured.

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

Amy Delk testified that she never saw Martin hurt or behave violently toward her mother during their almost 21 years of marriage. But years ago — Linda Martin's daughter said she is not sure how many — Kenneth Martin put his hands around her mom’s throat and squeezed, and then lifted her up and pinned her against a wall, according to her mom.

The daughter said her stepfather told her he was at a bar and drunk during the attack. Amy Delk testified that she never asked her mom to report the incident to police or leave her husband because she did not believe it would ever happen again. In hindsight, Delk told Clayton, she wishes she had.

Wade Delk testified that he admired Martin for his work ethic, but the divorce process devastated his family.

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Defendant, Kenneth Martin leaves the courtroom for a lunch recess during his murder trial at the Tim Curry Justice Center on Monday. Martin was convicted of killing his estranged wife at an intersection in Southlake near Town Square in 2016. Bob Booth Special to the Star-Telegram

Wade Delk has not been able to visit his mother's grave or talk at length with his four daughters concerning what happened to his mother, he testified. The son said he hopes that will now change.

"My mother gave my four daughters a book, "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star," and it's in her voice," Delk testified. "It concerns me that one day the batteries will die and we'll take them out to change them and her voice will be gone forever."

Amy Delk said Martin, her stepfather, was the one who was committed to the relationship.

“She wasn’t happy, he wasn’t happy, but he would have stuck it out,” Amy Delk said.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3
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