A murder trial that was scheduled to begin Monday in Martinsville Circuit Court was continued because a defense witness hasn’t be located, and when it resumes, there won’t even be a jury.
Terrell Kiwon Martin, 25, of 42 Richwood Circle in Martinsville is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Tyrone Antwon Herndon, 33, of Martinsville. The shooting happened in the parking lot of Fas Mart at 1105 Brookdale St. on Dec. 30, 2017.
Martin also is charged with shooting in a public place, causing injury; use of a firearm in the commission of a felony; and reckless handling of a firearm, causing injury.
This strange turn of events emerged when the jury trial was supposed to begin at 9 a.m. Monday. Officials had thought the trial would last two days. About 50 potential jurors had been called.
But Martinsville Commonwealth’s Attorney Andy Hall said later Monday that the trial was continued at the request of the defense because a deputy had been unable to locate Tamisha Valentine, a witness for the defense, to serve a subpoena for her to appear.
“She was subpoenaed but never served,” Hall said.
Circuit Judge G. Carter Greer on Monday morning sent a deputy to 1428 Askin St., Martinsville, which records list as Valentine’s address, and the deputy found the subpoena he had left there on Friday, Hall said.
Hall said Martin’s lawyer, Jason Eisner, indicated he may have some information about Valentine’s possible whereabouts, but in a phone interview Eisner described that information as general.
Meanwhile Eisner withdrew a request for trial by jury, which means the case would be tried by a judge.
He said Martin requested to withdraw the request for trial by jury, and that that was agreeable to the prosecution.
The case is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 27, at which time a new trial date would be set.
The Martinsville Police Department reported that officers were dispatched to the parking lot of Fas Mart at 12:17 a.m., where they found Herndon with a gunshot wound. He was transported to Sovah Martinsville and pronounced dead.
The shooter had fled the scene by the time police arrived, but during the investigation police identified Martin as a suspect and received help from the Virginia State Police and the U.S. Marshals Task Force to find him and obtain warrants for his arrest.
Martin was arrested on Jan. 11, 2018, in Franklin, which is in Southampton County.
According a criminal complaint filed by Sgt. Harley Durham of the Martinsville Police Department and in his testimony at preliminary hearing, Lakeisha Massey (Herndon’s alleged girlfriend) told police she had spoken to Herndon in the evening of Dec. 29 and that he sounded like he had been drinking. Herndon was driving Massey’s vehicle, a 2010 white Dodge Avenger, so she wanted to go find him and take away the keys.
Massey stated that at around 11:30 p.m. she and her two daughters (Tytiana Massey and Valentine) and Martin all got into Valentine’s vehicle to go out looking for Herndon, according to the criminal complaint.
They eventually found Herndon and the vehicle at Fas Mart, where they saw Herndon getting out of Massey’s Dodge. Lakeisha Massey said she got out of Valentine’s vehicle, approached Herndon and had a conversation with him, according to the criminal complaint.
Lakeisha Massey stated that a black Nissan pulled into the parking lot, and Ke’van Manns exited the front passenger seat of that vehicle and began to walk toward her and Herndon.
Manns and Herndon spoke to one another, but when Manns tried to shake Herndon’s hand, Herndon told him no, Lakeisha Massey stated in the criminal complaint.
At this point, the words exchanged between the two escalated into a physical struggle, according to the criminal complaint. Lakeisha Massey stated that Herndon was getting the upper hand on Manns during the fight, and Martin got out of Valentine’s vehicle and joined the fight to help Manns.
Martin and Manns then fought Herndon across the parking lot to near the rear of the black Nissan, where Herndon fell down, and Manns and Martin began to kick him, Lakeisha Massey stated in the criminal complaint.
She said she then took out a gun to display and scare Manns and Martin off of Herndon. When that appeared to work, she put away her gun, she said in the complaint, and Manns ran back to the black Nissan.
Herndon began to get up and walk back to Lakeisha Massey’s white Dodge. Martin walked back to Valentine’s vehicle, saying out loud, “Nah, I ain’t going out like that. I’m Blood,” according to the criminal complaint.
Lakeisha Massey said that’s when Martin walked back toward Herndon and her with a black firearm in his hand. She said Martin got to within two or three feet of Herndon and lifted up his weapon and lowered it, pointing it in the direction of Herndon. She said Martin then fired one shot and walked back to Valentine’s vehicle.
What happened then is a bit confusing.
According to the criminal complaint, when police arrived at the scene, Massey and her daughter Tytiana Massey had remained at the scene as witnesses. She told investigators that Martin fired one shot and walked back to Valentine’s vehicle, which departed, as did the black Nissan in which Manns has been traveling.
But in an interview later, Massey said Martin got back into the car with her after he had fired the shot and that she dropped off Martin near the old bowling alley. He took the gun with him. Valentine’s location is not addressed.
Martin testified at the preliminary hearing in July 2018 that he was trying to break up a fight between Herndon and another man and that he had no beef against Herndon.
Paul Collins is a reporter for the Martinsville Bulletin. Contact him at 276-638-8801, ext. 236.