Walter Salvesen III’s account of what happened the night he killed his friend Jonathan Martin was unbelievable, Assistant District Attorney Joanna Mastny argued to the jury in closing.
After deliberating less than an hour Wednesday evening, the jury agreed, finding Salvesen guilty of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Chief Judge Carl C. Brown Jr. sentenced Salvesen to life in prison without parole plus an additional five years in prison for the weapon charge.
Salvesen, 25, claimed to Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents that he didn’t know what happened to Martin, 29, whose body was found dumped in Burke County in August 2015.
But Salvesen told the jury Wednesday he shot Martin because “I feared for my life.” That day in June, the exact date he couldn’t remember, Martin argued with Salvesen for over an hour, ending with threats against him and his family, Salvesen testified.
Salvesen said he was sitting on a couch in the living with his handgun on the coffee table in front of him. When Martin went for the gun, Salvesen beat him to it and began firing. He stopped when Martin hit the floor.
On cross-examination, Salvesen couldn’t explain how Martin had been shot in the back of the head. He wasn’t sure what happened to the gun, only that he tossed it into some woods while driving somewhere. And he couldn’t remember what the argument was about.
Salvesen said he wrapped Martin’s body in a comforter and blue tarp and lashed it to a dolly to be able to remove him from his home. He patched the bullet holes in the wall and cleaned up the blood. He didn’t want Martin’s associates to know what he had done, Salvesen said.
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