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Former Gallatin sheriff's sentence vacated by Court

Gatehouse News Service
updated: 8/28/2012 4:33 PM

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has vacated the two life sentences of former Gallatin County Sheriff Raymond M. Martin.
The case has been remanded to the U.S. District Court for Southern Illinois for re-sentencing. The court rejected a bid for a new trial, affirming Martin's conviction for dealing marijuana, witness tampering and attempting to conceal financial transactions.
In December of last year, Martin's attorney argued the judge who sentenced Martin failed to follow the sentencing guidelines that were developed through the court's own pre-sentence report. The pre-sentence report recommended a sentence of five years to life on one charge and 25 years to life on another.
In the court's ruling, issued Tuesday morning, the justices wrote "The government concedes that the court was operating under a misunderstanding regarding the guidelines range for Counts 4 and 5 for carrying a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime. Accordingly, the guidelines range for counts 4 and 5 was 5 to 25 years respectively, not 5 years to life and 25 years to life."
The court added "We have repeatedly held that a sentence based on an incorrect guidelines range constitutes plain error and warrants a remand for resentencing, unless we have reason to believe that the error in no way affected the district court's selection of a particular sentence. Here, we have no reason to believe that the error had no impact on the sentence."
Martin's attorney also argued for a new trial based on the fact that the wife of one of Martin's co-conspirators was inadvertently escorted into the jury room during the second day of the trial.
"The fact is — that she was in the jury room in a case that involves witness tampering," Martin's attorney Dianna Watral argued. "My client was charged with trying to kill two witnesses who would testify against him — the jurors could put two and two together and become scared based on that."
The Appellate Court rejected the argument, stating — "There was absolutely no indication the incident had any lasting impact on the jury. The district court's decision to proceed with the trial was proper given the undisputed facts concerning the contact with jurors."
At the time of the Appellate Court's ruling, Martin was serving two life sentences at the Atwater Federal Penitentiary near San Francisco, Calif.
Martin had been re-elected four times as Gallatin County Sheriff. He has been in custody since May of 2009 when federal agents hauled him off from his office in Shawneetown. Since his conviction, Martin's home and more than $75,000 in cash have been forfeited to the U.S. Government.
No new court dates have been set for Martin's re-sentencing.

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