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5/07/05 Parents are due separate trials in infant's death

BILL BRAUN World Staff Writer
Tulsa World (Final Home Edition),
Page A18 of News


Two Tulsans who are charged with murder in the burning death of their baby will be tried separately beginning next month. Tulsa County District Judge Tom Thornbrugh on Friday granted Jeannie Henderson and Jerry Lee Marten separate trials, with jury selection for Henderson's trial set to begin May 16. Defense lawyers maintained that their clients are entitled by law to separate trials, and District Attorney Tim Harris conceded that issue at a hearing. Henderson, now 20, and Marten, 24, are charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 14, 2003, death of 8-month-old Christian Marten. Prosecutors maintain that Christian burned to death on a floor furnace while his 3-year-old sister watched at a residence in the 1900 block of South Indianapolis Avenue. When questioned by police, Henderson indicated that she was napping on a sofa near the furnace, a detective said at a preliminary hearing last year. At that same hearing, another detective said Marten told him he was sleeping in a bedroom that afternoon and was awakened by Henderson, who was screaming, "My baby! My baby!" The defendants also are charged with felony counts of child neglect and possessing methamphetamine in the presence of children. A document filed Friday on Henderson's behalf by attorney Patrick Adams said separate trials are required because evidence indicates "mutually antagonistic" defenses. A list of prospective witnesses filed on Henderson's behalf indicates that several will "rebut any witness that attacks the defendant's ability to be a good mother," records show. Defense attorney Kevin Adams has asserted that his client, Marten, was entitled to a separate trial if prosecutors planned to use Henderson's statement to police as evidence, because Marten would have no opportunity to confront and cross-examine a co-defendant, who could not be compelled to testify. The murder charge alleges that the defendants engaged in imminently dangerous conduct and showed disregard for human life, "although without any premeditated design" to cause death. A trial date for Marten will be set later. Both defendants are in the Tulsa Jail.

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