Man gets 15 years to life for 'mindless' Goldfields killing
Christopher Lawrence Russell's parents said 15 years to life in prison was "too lenient" for their son's killer.
"Our life will never be the same," Lawrence Russell told officials. "No more balance. No more whole family."
However, they reluctantly supported Joseph Aaron Martin's plea deal with prosecutors to avoid a trial, which no doubt, would have included grisly photographic evidence of their son's body, Martin's sentencing report said.
Martin shot Russell in the face and back of the head, leaving wounds "so significant" that Russell's parents did not view his body afterward.
In the report, Russell's parents described him as "adventuresome" and "athletic" and said he was "someone who would light up a room."
Russell's family has denied Russell was involved in drug deals.
"Whatever he did, he didn't deserve this," Lawrence Russell told officials.
Both parents suffer nightmares of their son's death, the report says.
"I relive it every night," the mother, Chris Russell, told officials.
It was supposed to be Joseph Aaron Martin's final marijuana deal, he said, but he shot and killed the Colorado buyer and could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Martin, 22, of Olivehurst, was sentenced on Thursday by Yuba County Judge Julia L. Scrogin to 15 years to life in prison for the second-degree murder of Christopher Lawrence Russell, 33, of Boulder, Colo., during an argument over drugs and money.
"This was mindless," Russell's mother, Chris, told officials. "This was a stupid, useless killing that didn't help anybody."
Martin pleaded guilty in January to the June 14 shooting death of Russell in the Goldfields, about three miles downriver from Parks Bar Bridge.
Russell's friends and family don't believe Russell was involved in any drug deals with Martin.
According to Martin's sentencing report, Russell drove from Colorado to purchase about 100 pounds of marijuana for around $130,000. Russell also intended to collect money Martin owned him from one of their four prior deals.
Martin met with Russell and Martin's supplier, identified in the report only as "James."
"Christopher did not the like the quality of the marijuana Martin's supplier was attempting to sell him," the report says. The supplier left by himself without completing the deal.
Martin and Russell argued over Martin's debt before Russell picked up a rock. Martin said he was afraid Russell would bludgeon him, so he pulled out a .32-caliber semi-automatic and fired six shots into Russell's face, neck, shoulder and arm, including one round to the back of Russell's head, the report says.
Martin dragged the body to the passenger side of Russell's truck so he "would not have to look at him" while Martin went through Russell's belongings inside. Martin fled the area in a car at high speed, cracked his oil pan on a rock and was forced to call a tow truck for his getaway car, the report says.
Martin was arrested a short time later.
He later told Yuba County sheriff's deputies he "freaked out" after killing Russell and began to cry when he saw Russell "leaking all over the place."
Asked about potentially spending the rest of his life behind bars, Martin said, "It's not near what he (Russell) went through."
"He doesn't have a chance to come back," Martin said. "I have a chance to come home."
He also expressed regret and said he would "take it back if I could."
"It sucks. My life is over, but it's not even about that," Martin told a Yuba County probation officer. "He (Russell) was my friend. I liked him and he's gone ..."
CONTACT Rob Parsons at email@example.com or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.