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7-year-old takes stand in sexual abuse case

Wire • Oct 5, 2011 at 4:00 PM

The girl turns 8 years old this weekend.

When she took the witness stand Monday morning, telling a Summit County jury how an Akron man rubbed her private parts on numerous sleepovers since the age of 4, she admitted to prosecutors in a soft voice that she was nervous.

But later in the day, during a 2010 taped interview with social worker Colleen Shrout at the sexual abuse center of Akron Children's Hospital, the little girl in the pink blouse plainly described how she felt about the man's alleged actions.

"I think that's kind of disgusting, don't you?" she said to Shrout.

Defendant Earl Wayne Martin, a separated father of four who worked as a technician at a local blueprint company for 19 years, showed no emotions as he sat at the courtroom table calmly watching the 40-minute video.

Martin, 44, is standing trial on an 11-count indictment accusing him of rape and gross sexual imposition with six adolescent girls ages 3 to 11. He is being held at the county jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bond.

When opening statements began Wednesday, Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Peacock showed the jury a large bar graph charting the timeline of the alleged sexual acts with the girls, some of whom are adults now.

The alleged incidents began some 22 years ago, in 1989 when Martin was in his early 20s, and continued through July 8 of last year, when the little girl in the pink blouse told her mother what had happened to her.

The defense case has yet to begin, but when it does, it will be undertaken by two high-powered attorneys from the Cochran Firm in Birmingham, Ala. -- the firm co-founded by the late Johnnie Cochran of O.J. Simpson murder trial fame.

Lead defense counsel Martin Adams, who said he and co-counsel Joshua McKeown were retained by Martin 10 months ago -- before his February arrest -- did not go into detail about what led them to take the case, except to say Martin found them on the firm's website.

"We handle cases in all of America," Adams said during a break in Monday's proceedings. "Everyone's entitled to have the best representation they can have.

"We're here to make sure that everything is done properly, in compliance with the U.S. Constitution, and to see that he's entitled to a fair trial just like the state of Ohio."

Adams said there was a set fee for the case, but did not elaborate.

"He hired us before he got arrested, in the fall of last year when some of these allegations happened, to kind of help manage the situation as much as it can be managed," Adams said.

"What I mean by that is trying to speak with any witnesses that might be important in the case, or if there's evidence that you might want to look at before it gets destroyed."

Summit County lawyers who practice regularly here say the fee for Martin's case undoubtedly is six figures -- at least $50,000 to come here and $50,000 for the weeklong trial itself.

Closing arguments are scheduled for late this week, with much of the prosecutions's case yet to come.

Adams said he is "fairly confident" that Martin will take the stand. Some of the girls allegedly abused also might be called to testify, he said.

Prosecutors already have introduced evidence from two of the girls allegedly raped. They described it as "graphic testimony."

One of the victims, now 24, sent Martin an email, on May 29, 2009, listing the good things and bad things he allegedly did.

On the goods side were: "Going to the amusement park ... going late night fishing ... going skating at the rink ... and going horseback riding."

Under the bad things, she wrote: "It didn't just happen once." It happened -- "monstrous acts" as she called them -- on "many occasions."

After receiving that email through his MySpace profile, Martin canceled his account, prosecutors said.

Adams said outside of court that the state has "no physical evidence" in this case.

"As I told the jury in opening arguments, the devil's in the details. We don't have DNA, or fingerprints, or videotapes, or really anyone to corroborate any of these victims' statements," Adams said.

"So it comes down to, as I told the jury again, whether or not these stories remain consistent or inconsistent. If you've got enough inconsistencies, if you've got some problems with the stories matching up, you've got reasonable doubt. Of course, that's always the jury's decision, but I hope we'll be able to point some of that out."

The trial was to resume before Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty.


By Ed Meyer - The Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)

(c)2011 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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