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EMT charged in defibrillator death sentenced to year in jail
Kingsport Times News ^ | 3/15/06 | Kevin Castle

Posted on 03/15/2006 4:25:33 AM PST by don-o

LEBANON VA - An emergency medical technician who pleaded guilty to killing a co-worker with a defibrillator paddle will be released from jail in early 2007 following a judge's decision Tuesday evening.

Russell County Circuit Judge Mike Moore called the June 1, 2005, death of 23-year-old Courtney Leighann Hilton "a senseless, foolish act" before handing down a 12-month jail sentence to Joshua Phillip Martin, 25, who entered an Alford plea in January to one count of involuntary manslaughter.

In an Alford plea, a defendant maintains his innocence while acknowledging that the evidence is strong enough that a judge or jury probably would convict.

State guidelines could have had Martin saddled with a 10-year maximum prison sentence, which Moore alluded to, but he chose to lessen the punishment and give Martin credit for time already served.

"This is a difficult case for the court. It is hard to understand how something like this could happen ... a defibrillator used to take someone's life. ... I've thought about my own kids when I think about this case," the judge said.

Hilton, who was originally from Scott County, was a single mother working her way through various classes and holding down a job as an EMT to help support her two children.

She was riding in the passenger's seat of an emergency vehicle owned by Highlands Ambulance Service when Martin, who had not even completed his first week of employment with the company, took a charged defibrillator paddle and stuck it to Hilton's back. Hilton lapsed into cardiac arrest and later suffered multi-system organ failure, according to the Virginia Medical Examiner's Office in Roanoke.

"This was an untimely killing because of a reckless act," said Moore, who suspended Martin's initial five-year prison sentence, ordered him to take part in the state's Adopt-A-Highway trash pickup program, and give a sample to the state's DNA bank.

"I hope that you can get on with your life. People have testified that you want to help people. I hope that you will be able to do that once you complete your sentence. I believe Courtney deserves that," he added.

Clad in his orange-and-white striped jail jumpsuit, Martin, of Clarks Street, Bristol, openly wept as members of Hilton's family took the stand to describe their daughter and sister.

"He needs to get a life sentence. That's what Courtney got," said half sister Chanda Lawson. "He knew that (the defibrillator) was not a toy. But he made the decision to use it like one."

Courtney's mother, Sandra Davenport, described her daughter as a caring mother. The last full weekend they spent together included Mother's Day, she testified.

Just days later, Davenport was left to watch her daughter die, leaving behind a boy and a girl ages 6 and 4 respectively, after making the decision to have her life support machine turned off.

"(Martin) can start his life over when he walks out of jail, and that just doesn't seem right," said Davenport.

Seven character witness took the stand to testify on behalf of Martin, including his former pastor, Darrell Harmon, who baptized Martin as a child and has tried to counsel him in jail.

"He began to read his Bible more and began to pray more. I thought he was making some progress, but (as the trial drew closer), I could sense that he was broken, depressed and even suicidal. He never mentioned doing that, but I thought that," the pastor said.

Other witnesses, including some of Martin's childhood friends, testified that the emotional damage done to him could be irreversible.

"He says that when he goes to bed at night, he relives the whole thing over and over. He can see her, and he lives with her death every day, and probably will for the rest of his life," said one witness.

Russell County Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Bush said Tuesday that Martin's crime was the result of a foolish mistake using an instrument that is used to help bring back life but instead was used in a moment of horseplay to end a life.

"This was done as an act where (Martin) knew what could have been done and should have been done. From what we understand, he had tried to (jab another co-worker with a defibrillator paddle) prior to this," said Bush. "This was a painful mistake."

Martin's attorney, Joshua Sutherland, said his client has been ridiculed on every EMT-related Internet site and chat room available, and along with the attention the accident has received on a national basis, the strain has become almost unbearable for him.

"So many factors aligned at the same time causing this tragedy to happen," said Sutherland. "He has to relive that day for the rest of his life. I know that whatever decision the court makes today is not going to bring Courtney's family the satisfaction they are looking for. ... If any case deserved mercy, this one does."

Before Moore gave his ruling, Martin was remorseful as he apologized to Hilton's family as he stood before the court.

"I never meant to do it," said Martin as he sobbed loudly.

Martin will remain jailed at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail complex in Abingdon until his scheduled release in January 2007 if he receives a report of good behavior from jail officials.

Following that, he will have to undergo court-ordered counseling and will be on supervised probation for the next five years, which Moore said he would revoke if Martin was charged with a crime during that period.

"I hope that during that time you can find some forgiveness for yourself," said Moore.


TOPICS: Local News
KEYWORDS: emt; idiotgetspatonhead; justduh; pranksgonebad; travestyofjustice
Story was posted when this idiot did the did. Here is his slap on the wrist follow up
1 posted on 03/15/2006 4:25:34 AM PST by don-o
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To: don-o

Deed


2 posted on 03/15/2006 4:29:40 AM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor!)
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To: don-o

Dear God! I hadn't heard about this. What a tragedy and what a horrible ruling!

"An Alford plea" - now everybody and his dog will want one!


3 posted on 03/15/2006 4:31:17 AM PST by Rte66
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To: don-o

Prosecutor should have gone for 2nd degree murder...he may have walked, but he essentially walked anyway.

http://criminal.findlaw.com/crimes/a-z/murder_second_degree.html


4 posted on 03/15/2006 4:32:03 AM PST by Drago
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To: don-o

The idiot gets a pat on the head and is told, " be a good boy" ?


5 posted on 03/15/2006 4:34:58 AM PST by csvset
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To: don-o
"I hope that you can get on with your life. People have testified that you want to help people. I hope that you will be able to do that once you complete your sentence. I believe Courtney deserves that," -- Russell County Circuit Judge Mike Moore

---------------------------

Courtney deserves that this idiot should get on with his life. What could this Judge possibly be thinking to make such a moronic statement?

6 posted on 03/15/2006 4:37:16 AM PST by bondjamesbond (RICE '08)
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To: don-o
Ten years ought to have been the minimum time for this jackass.

Too bad he didn't shock himself.

7 posted on 03/15/2006 4:38:41 AM PST by OldFriend (HELL IS TOO GOOD FOR OUR MAINSTREAM MEDIA)
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To: don-o

"a senseless, foolish act" was handing down 12-month jail sentence to Joshua Phillip Martin, 25, who entered an Alford plea in January to one count of involuntary manslaughter. HE should be doing a whole lot more time.
. From what we understand, he had tried to (jab another co-worker with a defibrillator paddle) prior to this," I hope he is never allowed to be a emergency medical technician again.


8 posted on 03/15/2006 4:42:25 AM PST by pandoraou812 (dilligaf and barbaric !)
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To: don-o

What's with judges and the courts? This jerk needs to spend a good portion of his life in prison. If nothing else have to wear an "I" for idiot the rest of his life. What gets me is how the heck did he get his certificate? The instructors must have known he was a moron from day one.


9 posted on 03/15/2006 4:45:03 AM PST by mtbopfuyn (Legality does not dictate morality... Lavin)
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To: don-o
Justice is so skewed in this country.

I know for a fact , unfortunately, here in Indiana there are 92 counties and 92 interpretations of the law, some counties uphold it others don't. Seems its the same in this case too.

10 posted on 03/15/2006 4:47:01 AM PST by Kakaze (I'm now a single issue voter.....exterminate Al Quaida)
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To: don-o

"He needs to get a life sentence. That's what Courtney got," said half sister Chanda Lawson. "He knew that (the defibrillator) was not a toy. But he made the decision to use it like one."


That says it all, as far as I am concerned.


11 posted on 03/15/2006 4:55:10 AM PST by DemforBush
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To: don-o
Martin's attorney, Joshua Sutherland, said his client has been ridiculed on every EMT-related Internet site and chat room available, and along with the attention the accident has received on a national basis, the strain has become almost unbearable for him.

Awwwww, poor little baby...Courtney Hilton is soooo much luckier than him!

"So many factors aligned at the same time causing this tragedy to happen," said Sutherland. "He has to relive that day for the rest of his life. I know that whatever decision the court makes today is not going to bring Courtney's family the satisfaction they are looking for. ... If any case deserved mercy, this one does."

CAUSING this tragedy to happen!!!???!! CAUSING!!! Like what was done to Ms Hilton was an act of God, and not an Act of Idiot.

Before Moore gave his ruling, Martin was remorseful as he apologized to Hilton's family as he stood before the court. "I never meant to do it," said Martin as he sobbed loudly.

Yes, you did, and no, this case does NOT deserve mercy, as the idiot lawyer stated...The original article made it plain that Martin used the defrib on Hilton immediately after she chastised Martin for jacking around with it and told him to put it up. He certainly did not mean for her to die, but he meant to cause her discomfort, maybe even pain. I said then and I'll say it again : I believe he did it because he was angry that a mere female DARED to tell him what to do.

12 posted on 03/15/2006 4:56:36 AM PST by kaylar
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To: don-o

Not enough time.


13 posted on 03/15/2006 5:06:15 AM PST by jocon307 (The Silent Majority - silent no longer)
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To: Drago
Prosecutor should have gone for 2nd degree murder

Here in Johnson City (TN) we have a high profile case of a kid charged with 2nd degree for crashing into a vehicle drag racing and killing one and badly burning another. The prosecutors have caught a little flak for that, but I bet a dollar they get a conviction

14 posted on 03/15/2006 5:45:52 AM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor!)
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To: kaylar
The original article made it plain that Martin used the defrib on Hilton immediately after she chastised Martin for jacking around with it and told him to put it up.

Thanks for adding that background. You are probably right about his "motivation" as well.

He'll be lucky to have a career as a burger flipper. I wouldn't hire him to clean my privy.

15 posted on 03/15/2006 8:45:42 AM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor!)
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To: Drago
Prosecutor should have gone for 2nd degree murder...

What is with all the vengeful anger on FR against this guy? He did a reckless, stupid thing and it killed his coworker. It's not like he's running around the streets with a sawed-off defibrillator looking for his next victim.

http://criminal.findlaw.com/crimes/a-z/manslaughter_involuntary.html

If vehicular homicides resulting from DUIs are charged as involuntary manslaughter -- which they typically are -- then this case clearly should be as well.

16 posted on 03/15/2006 8:57:51 AM PST by TChris ("Wake up, America. This is serious." - Ben Stein)
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To: DemforBush

Agreed. Russell County Circuit Judge Mike Moore should be removed from the bench.


17 posted on 03/15/2006 9:32:27 AM PST by TheDon (The Democratic Party is the party of TREASON!)
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To: TChris
What is with all the vengeful anger

I think it reflects a growing consensus that there is something gone very wrong in the justice system.

18 posted on 03/15/2006 9:33:39 AM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor!)
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To: don-o

If it was my sister I'd be waiting outside the jail 12 months from now,...with a defibrillator paddle!


19 posted on 03/15/2006 9:35:18 AM PST by Doc Savage (Of all these things you can be sure, only love...will endure.......................)
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To: TheDon
Nice screen name you have there. Not as good as mine....but, nice :)>

And I hope we have not heard the end of this. I wil keep a lookout for this judge and see if my neighbors in SW VA can persuade him to get into another line of work.

20 posted on 03/15/2006 9:36:29 AM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor!)
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To: don-o
I think it reflects a growing consensus that there is something gone very wrong in the justice system.

Where did "the justice system" go wrong in this case? I generally agree with the sentiment, but it looks like this case adhered to the law very well.

Dislike of a verdict and/or penalty is not necessarily evidence of failures in the justice system.

21 posted on 03/15/2006 9:37:11 AM PST by TChris ("Wake up, America. This is serious." - Ben Stein)
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To: TChris
The prosecutors failed the people of Virginia by offering the "nolo" deal. The judge failed the people on Virginia by imposing a light sentence.

Maybe "failure" is not the word I am looking for. How about miscarriage?

22 posted on 03/15/2006 9:40:45 AM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor!)
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To: TChris

I see it as: He intentionally put paddle(s) on her and pulled the trigger. Not that he accidentally put the paddle(s) on her and pulled the trigger. Involuntary manslaughter would be that he somehow got the paddles on her by accident and slipped and pulled the trigger. Of course, I am not an attorney. ;-)


23 posted on 03/15/2006 12:46:53 PM PST by Drago
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To: Drago
I see it as: He intentionally put paddle(s) on her and pulled the trigger.

Yes, he did. But the question of whether he expected that action to kill her is the key. It's just like a DUI. They are both inherently dangerous, reckless actions not necessarily involving any intent to seriously harm anyone. When he activated the defibrillator, was he really trying to seriously hurt or kill his coworker, or was he exercising stubbornness and very bad judgment in the execution of a prank?

Intent is a very important issue in a criminal trial.

24 posted on 03/15/2006 2:11:45 PM PST by TChris ("Wake up, America. This is serious." - Ben Stein)
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To: TChris

1. He was a trained EMT, and should have known that defribillators can be deadly to those who don't need them

2. It was actually his second attempt. He tried it a few minutes before, but they saw him and told him to knock it off, it wasn't a toy.


25 posted on 03/15/2006 2:42:51 PM PST by Eepsy
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To: TChris

He intended to shock a healthy woman with a defribillator, and in his position as an EMT should have know how deadly that could be. He shouldn't be given slack on the off chance he wasn't listening during his training.


26 posted on 03/15/2006 2:45:52 PM PST by Eepsy
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To: Eepsy
He intended to shock a healthy woman with a defribillator, and in his position as an EMT should have know how deadly that could be. He shouldn't be given slack on the off chance he wasn't listening during his training.

The legal theory is no different than a DUI. It's a dangerous, stupid thing which the defendant clearly should know better than to do.

Negligent, reckless, stupid, foolish, dangerous. Not malicious. That marks a clear distinction between murder and manslaughter.

27 posted on 03/15/2006 2:51:47 PM PST by TChris ("Wake up, America. This is serious." - Ben Stein)
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To: TChris
The difference is in a DUI accident, a person is impaired by the alcohol before they make the decision to drive the car. I can see how that would preclude maliciousness. What was impairing this guy? The other EMTs told him to put the paddles down. He was in a position where he should have had knowledge of the effects. If what he did wan't "malicious" I need a new dictionary.
28 posted on 03/15/2006 3:05:19 PM PST by Eepsy
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To: Eepsy; TChris; Drago
Very interesting discussion. May I ping y'all when we have the trial on 2nd murder charge for the drag racer that killed one and maimed another?

I think that's happening in June in Jonesbourough, TN.

29 posted on 03/15/2006 3:38:57 PM PST by don-o (Don't be a Freeploader. Do the right thing. Become a Monthly Donor!)
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To: Eepsy
If what he did wan't "malicious" I need a new dictionary.

Perhaps you do. Have you looked up the word "malice"? Here's the entry from dictionary.com:

mal·ice
n.

  1. A desire to harm others or to see others suffer; extreme ill will or spite.
  2. Law. The intent, without just cause or reason, to commit a wrongful act that will result in harm to another.
The common theme in both definitions is the desire to harm. Malice is wanting to make someone hurt. Malice is found in the presence of hatred, anger and revenge. There is no evidence of any of those things in this case.

He was not angry at Courtney. He did not hate Courtney. There's no evidence of a desire for revenge. He wasn't even defending himself against a perceived attack.

Nothing in this case demonstrates that Joshua Martin intended to harm Courtney Hilton, but rather that he intended to startle her. It was a definitive case of involuntary manslaughter. The prosecutor charged Martin correctly.

30 posted on 03/16/2006 7:08:53 AM PST by TChris ("Wake up, America. This is serious." - Ben Stein)
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To: don-o
May I ping y'all when we have the trial on 2nd murder charge for the drag racer that killed one and maimed another?

Please do! I'd be interested to see how that goes.

31 posted on 03/16/2006 7:09:39 AM PST by TChris ("Wake up, America. This is serious." - Ben Stein)
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To: TChris
"He was not angry at Courtney. He did not hate Courtney. There's no evidence of a desire for revenge. He wasn't even defending himself against a perceived attack."

Exactly. Any of those things being present would have been mitigating, though not at all exculpatory. At least then it could have been a "heat of the moment" type thing.

"Nothing in this case demonstrates that Joshua Martin intended to harm Courtney Hilton, but rather that he intended to startle her."

No, if you want to startle someone you pop a balloon behind them or give them a gag can of beer nuts filled with snakes. You don't purposely send 800 volts through someone's body after being told not to unless you have "[a] desire to harm others or to see others suffer; extreme ill will or spite."

32 posted on 03/16/2006 8:32:56 AM PST by Eepsy
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