Murder Victim's Family Speaks Out

Tuesday, June 27th 2006, 11:11 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa County District Attorney's race has been in the news lately. When one man saw the candidates talking about their credentials, it made him think of his mother. She was murdered in 1999 and no one has ever been prosecuted for the crime, even though police developed a suspect a month after she was killed.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright says Betty Jo Martin was a 79-year-old, legally blind grandmother who was brutally murdered in January of 1999.

She's was checking out a sound she heard in her daughter's house next door and interrupted a burglary. Betty Jo’s son Ken Martin: "The guy hit her in the head, he strangled her and he stomped her." Police developed a suspect in the case, a druggie, but the evidence was circumstantial. They kept the family informed every step of the way and eventually sent the case to District Attorney's office.

The DA has never filed charges. First assistant DA Doug Drummond: "We are always mindful of families and we are here to prosecute crimes and put away violent offenders, but, unfortunately, we didn't have the evidence to do that."

A Tulsa County grand jury's report also said there wasn't enough evidence and the DA says it took several witnesses to a grand jury in Oklahoma City and couldn't get the truth out of them. They say their job involves hundreds of cases and many hard decisions. Doug Drummond; "If anybody thinks when we make a hard decision and have to communicate that to the victim's family, that it doesn't hurt us inside, they're wrong."

Betty Jo's family says what hurts most is not that they family hasn't had justice, that a murderer is running around free, while their mother is dead, but, feeling shut out during the process. Ken Martin: "They're supposed to be representing the families of victims because we can't. They should let us know where they're at, something, just don't ignore us."

Ken says he just wanted people to hear about his experience and how he feels the system failed his family.

The DA's office points out there are other families who have been happy with their work and feel the system worked well.