Murder trial begins in Hephzibah homicide

For two months, Jonathan Martin’s family worried. When Father’s Day passed and then his mother’s birthday, they became extremely worried.


On Aug. 22, 2015, the birthday of Martin’s father James, the family received the worst news possible: he was dead.

A trial began Monday in Richmond County Superior Court for the man accused of killing him, Walter Salversen III.

Salversen, 24, has pleaded not guilty. In his opening statement, defense attorney Daniel Franck told the jury that Salversen shot Martin in self defense, fearing Martin would shoot him first.

Assistant District Attorney Joanna Mastny told the jury that Martin, 29, was shot in the chest and head. Salversen talked his sister into helping dump Martin’s body in the woods on Josh Blackstone’s property. Because of decomposition, Martin was identified through his fingerprints, she said.

The body was wrapped in a comforter and blue tarp and lashed to a U Haul dolly. The materials wrapping the body and the dolly were traced back to Salversen, the prosecutor said.

A couple of months before Blackstone discovered the bundle on his property, he found a couple there. Their truck was stuck in a ditch, Blackstone testified. The man and woman appeared nervous and claimed they were looking for a place to rent. He had forgotten about it until after the body was found on Aug. 19, 2015, he testified. Where the truck was stuck in the ditch was only a few yards from where the body was found.

The last time Martin’s little sister talked to him was June 19, 2015, Anna Marie Martin testified Monday. There were very close and her brother’s side of the conversation bothered her, she said. He just didn’t sound right.

When Father’s Day passed and then her mother’s birthday, they knew something was seriously wrong, Martin’s sister testified. He would never have let the occasions pass without at least phone calls.

Testimony continues Tuesday.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or



Sun, 01/21/2018 - 20:23

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