New Orleans man sentenced to life for Prichard murder captured on 911 call
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -A New Orleans man convicted of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend in the head while she was on a 911 call will go to prison for life – but will have a chance for parole.
A Mobile County Circuit Court jury in November found Terrance Martin, 33, guilty of murder in the death of LaToya Jones in 2019. The key piece of evidence wat the 911 call that Jones made from her mother’s home in Prichard.
PRICHARD OPERATOR: “What’s going on at the location?”
JONES: “I have somebodv who say he’s gonna kill me, shoot me dead.”
PRICHARD OPERATOR: “They’re at your house with you?”
JONES: “They’s out here, yes.”
PRICHARD OPERATOR: “Is it a male or female? They’re inside the home?”
JONES: “Male, male.”
Initially prosecutors had argued that three prior felony convictions made Martin eligible for life in prison without possibility of parole. But Mobile County Circuit Judge Jill Phillips ruled on Thursday that one of those convictions, an aggravated flight from an officer charge in Louisiana, would not have been a felony under Alabama law. That gives Martin at least the chance that he might one day walk free, although he will have to serve at least 15 years before he is eligible for his first parole hearing.
During the 911 call, the Prichard dispatcher sends a police officer for a “Signal 39″ and then turns attention back to Jones.
PRICHARD OPERATOR: “OK, does he have any weapons?”
PRICHARD OPERATOR: “What type of weapon, ma’am?”
JONES: “I’d rather not say, ‘cause he’s right in front of me. So, get somebody ‘cause he say he’s gonna kill me.”
PRICHARD OPERATOR: “OK, what’s his name ma’am?”
Friends and relatives of Jones, wearing purple “JUSTICE FOR TOYA: shirts, expressed anguish on Thursday.
“I do want the court to consider my sister and what she meant to us,” Tina Paige told the judge.
Ursula Salter, a longtime friend of the victim, recalled in court how she drove to New Orleans to pick Jones up after she decided to break up with Martin.
“To see you, I don’t even get angry no more because you have to live with it,” she said, looking directly at Martin. “I’ll leave it to God.”
Given a chance to address the judge, Martin declined to say anything. Defense attorney Lee Hale Jr. pointed to the testimony during the trial.
“We know you heard the testimony regarding Mr. Martin’s background, that he had challenges,” he said. “We would just ask for mercy.”
But under the Habitual Felony Offender Act, Phillips had no discretion.
Paige and Salter struggled to maintain their composure outside the courtroom.
“I know it’s supposed to feel like justice, but I just really don’t feel like – I’m still hurt,” she told reporters. “And just like I said, we forgive him because God wanted us to forgive him.”
Salter lamented that her friend never will get to walk her son down the aisle or experience any of life’s other milestones.
“It was just a senseless death, over nothing, because he didn’t want to walk away,” he said. “And at the end of the day, he still fled but justice was really served.”
After asking a series of questions while Prichard police were en route, the operator hears commotion over the line.
PRICHARD OPERATOR: “OK, is that him talking in the background?”
JONES: “Yes, that’s him talking. He won’t leave my premises and have a gun and um, waving it.”
Jones then argues with Martin.
JONES: “So, you really gonna do that? You really? So, you really gonna do that? While my child up in there? You gonna pull a gun on me while my child in there? Really? Really? While my child in there? Oh my God.”
More noise in the background and then the voice of a child, the victim’s 15-year-old son
CHILD: “Mama, mom, mom, mom, mom.”
Seconds later, as Jones lay with a gunshot wound to the head, the victim’s child calls 911 and speaks to an emergency dispatcher, begging for an ambulance.
CHILD: “Please, please. Hurry up. I can’t lose my mama. I can’t, please. Help.”
Mobile County District Attorney Keith Blackwood said the case presented a particularly egregious set of facts.
“It’s, you know, one of the worst-case scenarios,” she said. “It’s, you know, a case involving just horrific domestic violence. The victim was on the phone. You know, there was a child present. And, you know, she was just executed right in front of her child.”
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