NMI high court affirms repeat offender’s 20-year prison sentence

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THE local Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the 20-year prison sentence imposed on Marlon Martin Jr. for robbing a poker establishment in Chalan Kanoa with a hammer on May 22, 2017.

Chief prosecutor John Bradley, in a statement, said the high court upheld a serious sentence as reasonable.

“While the Supreme Court did not accept our criticism of the growing number of judicially created rules that trial judges must follow in sentencing, we are grateful that the Supreme Court was respectful of the discretion trial judges deserve in sentencing,” Bradley added.

Apparently, Bradley said, only the Legislature can stop the proliferation of new rules by repealing the provision upon which the CNMI Supreme Court relies for its authority.

“We welcome that discussion so that sentencing is simplified and victims are protected from endless litigation,” Bradley said in an email to Variety.

In Jan. 2018, Judge Joseph N. Camacho imposed the maximum sentence of 20 years on Marlon Martin Jr., a Palauan national, to be served day to day, without the possibility of probation, early release, work or weekend release or any other similar program.

Marlon Martin Jr. 

According to the judge’s order, Martin is only eligible to apply for parole after serving the first 15 years of his sentence.

Martin appealed and sought to vacate his sentence arguing that the trial court: (1) failed to properly individualize his sentence; (2) mechanically imposed his sentence; (3) impermissibly restricted parole eligibility; and (4) impermissibly denied early release, work release, weekend release, or other similar programs.

Martin, through the Public Defender’s Office, also asked the high court to remand his case to a different judge for resentencing.

But Chief Justice Alexandro Castro, Justice John A. Manglona, and Justice Perry Inos Jr. affirmed Martin’s sentence.

They noted that Martin was serving probation for the suspended portion of a 14-year sentence when he committed the robbery in May 2017.

“The record reflects that the court did not consider Martin’s parole violation at sentence,” the justices stated, adding that Judge Camacho “properly weighed various mitigating and aggravating factors and did not abuse [his] discretion.”

The justices stated that less than a year after his release from seven years of incarceration, Martin disguised himself with a mask and a hooded jacket, entered a poker establishment, and, armed with a hammer, pressed it against the cashier’s neck and stole $500.

Martin pled guilty to one count of robbery in violation of 6 CMC §1411(a)2.

In his sentencing order, Judge Camacho noted Martin’s prior criminal record: burglary, robbery, aggravated assault and battery, conspiracy, and traffic offenses.

Judge Camacho said Martin is a repeat offender, is not a candidate for rehabilitation, and has prior convictions.

The judge said Martin received a seven-year prison sentence without parole, “but even this lengthy sentence failed to rehabilitate the defendant; if anything his criminal acts continued to escalate.”

The judge said the defendant “requires a much longer sentence to ensure he fully understands his actions and is deterred from committing any future crimes.”

The judge said Martin failed to learn from his prior cases — “many of which are violent type crimes, and instead has escalated the seriousness of his criminal activities.”

Martin asked the court for a lenient time-served sentence or deportation to Palau so he could serve his sentence there.

Judge Camacho denied Martin’s request.





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