Emotions were raw in the courtroom for the preliminary hearing of a young woman who is facing life without parole for the September stabbing death of her boyfriend.
Just before the hearing for AnnMarie Jean Patrick got underway, her co-defendant and alleged lover Justin Tuttle, who is also facing first-degree murder and tampering with evidence charges, waived his hearing and was bound over for trial.
To get to the end of Daniel Martin Jr.'s life you've got to go back several months before he was murdered. His mother, Ginger Martin, testified that he began dating Patrick in May and they had an on again off again relationship. It wasn't a secret that Patrick or Dan Martin had struggled with drugs, but in the weeks leading up to his death he seemed to be winning that battle.
Ginger Martin said she felt like her son was being "set up again" by Patrick and she feared for her his life. Several weeks before Martin went missing, three men came to the Hawg Trough, the bar the Martin family owns near Lampe, looking for him to settle some kind of score, according to sources.
"I didn't trust her," said Ginger Martin. With that admission, AnnMarie began to sob at the defense table.
Rachelle Pavelka, Dan Martin's sister, said the last time she had any contact with her brother was about 4 p.m. on September 26th at the house of the day care provider they both used. She said Patrick and a man she didn't know were in her brother's truck. "He said he was going to get $20 that someone owed him because he was running out of gas and asked me to take his son to my mom's house, so I did."
But Dan Martin, who had several distinctive tattoos, didn't call or show up to take little Dan home that night...or the next night...or the night following that.
"That wasn't like him at all....I knew something was wrong," his mom recalled.
Ginger Martin said after she dropped little Dan off at daycare on September 27th she went to her son's house to look for him. She found the front door unlocked and his cell phone on the arm of a couch plugged in. She said she then knew something was really wrong because Dan was never without his phone.
What she found as she scrolled through the messages troubled her. "You really f****ed up this time," was an alleged message to Dan from AnnMarie Patrick. Frantic, she said she called and texted Patrick and every other contact in her son's phone. Only a few texted back. One of them was Patrick.
"I don't know where he is," said Patrick. Patrick told the missing man's mother that he had taken 10 Xanax and disappeared. Patrick later admitted she had not actually witnessed her boyfriend consume the prescription drug, but she believed he had.
Ginger Martin said Patrick never asked if anyone had heard from her boyfriend but Patrick said she and her sister would continue to search for him. Martin's hopes were raised in the search for her son when she was told that a relative of Dan's son had seen him on Friday. "It was a misunderstanding....she actually said she saw him on Thursday."
Earlier this year Dan had moved out of the house he shared with Patrick but they had gotten back together, according to Ginger Martin. "I was concerned she was setting him up to be jumped....again."
Daniel Compton, who is facing tampering with physical evidence charges for allegedly dumping Martin's truck in Arkansas after he was murdered, testified that he first saw Martin, Patrick about noon on September 26th. He said he and Tuttle were walking along the road when Martin stopped and offered them a ride.
Martin gave the men a ride to Nikki Williams' house where they were dropped off. Martin and Patrick came back to that house a few times that afternoon, according to Compton. After on of those visits, "they came out asked me if I could get some dope."
"They kept asking about dope. AnnMarie wrote down Jones Trading Post Road. That's where we were supposed to meet for the deal....I never made it there I guess," Compton said.
Compton said the next time he saw Martin's truck it was parked on the side of Highway 86 near Dogwood Canyon about 5: 30 p.m. on September 26th and several people were surrounding it as gas was put in the vehicle.
Compton said when he got a closer look at Justin Tuttle he was covered in blood and had a split lip and head wounds. "He said Dan Martin was getting the better of him in a fight so he put a couple of holes in him and sent him 'fishing'."
Patrick didn't go home on September 26, according to court testimony. Instead, she and Justin Tuttle spent the night together at Nikki Williams' house. "I took it they was a couple," said Compton. "They were all over each other cuddlin' in the back of the car."
"She said Jay was supposed to be treating her better than Dan Martin was and including her in decisions." She also told Compton that Martin "had probably run off with some girls from Nixa."
Family and friends searched for Dan Martin for three days before a family discovered a body floating in Table Rock Lake at the end of Jones Trading Post Road.
Ginger Martin raced to the scene and begged officers..."Go check for the tattoo's.....I can't do that."
The mother's worst fears were realized when authorities confirmed the body that had been weighted down with a large boulder was indeed her son. It was the Martin tattoo on his back and the tattoo of cards on his neck that sealed the confirmation.
Dr. Keith Norton, with Southwest Missouri Forensics, conducted the autopsy on Martin. He said Martin had eight puncture wounds on his body and three small cuts to the tips of the fingers on his left hand. He also had several wounds to the back of his head and a deep laceration on the side of his face that ran across his nose.
Norton said the head wounds could have been caused by the 10 pound rock that was found inside of Martin's shirt that had been used to weigh him.
Because of the state of decomposition, Norton "could not definitively" say which wound caused Martin's death.
A few days after Martin's remains were found his truck was discovered down a ravine in rural Boone County, Arkansas. Authorities believe diesel fuel had been dumped all over the vehicle.
AnnMarie's attorney, Steve Kellogg, said that while his client had knowledge of Martin's murder, she did not actively participate in killing him and did not "cooly deliberate" before the homicide and should not be facing a first-degree murder charge.
After hearing all the evidence, Judge Alan Blankenship concluded that the state presented enough evidence to send Patrick's case to trial.
Both she and Tuttle are scheduled to be arraigned in circuit court on December 2nd.
Tampering with physical evidence charges have been dropped against Compton.