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Testimony concludes in Martin murder trial

Sarah Weber • Feb 24, 2011 at 10:07 AM

The jury in the Michael Martin trial will likely start deliberations today.

Testimony wrapped up in Erie County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday afternoon and the court recessed before closing arguments. Martin's attorney, Joseph Patituce and Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter will make their closing comments to the jury this morning.

The jury will have to decide if Martin, 54, strangled 25-year-old Amanda Gibson to death and then dumped her body along a path to a Groton Township pond.

Martin's attorney has maintained his innocence, blaming Gibson's death on people connected to the Outlaws motorcycle club.

If found guilty, Martin faces a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 15 years on the single count of murder. Additionally he could serve five years for each of two counts of tampering with evidence.

The final day of testimony focused on evidence deputies gleaned from cell phone records.

Detectives used the records to track Martin and Gibson's conversations and whereabouts the day of her demise. In one text message on June 7, Martin told Gibson that he was "outside," waiting to pick her up so she could retrieve personal items from his garage.

Erie County Detective Jared Oliver said his investigation shows Gibson's phone later that day moving south through Erie County.

Martin admitted in a letter to his girlfriend that he moved Martin's body after he found her dead in his garage. He said in the letter he saw three men driving from the scene and that they must have killed her.

Patituce questioned whether Oliver interpreted the phone records correctly.

He pointed to previous testimony from a Sprint technician, who said she could determine a phone's distance from a tower down to only about a 2-mile distance.

Oliver said he consulted with Verizon staff to make sure he understood the records.

Patituce told the jury in his opening arguments that Martin would take the stand as his last witness. Martin, however, never did testify.

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