Suspect in Sutter double killings to stand trial
A Loomis man will stand trial in last year's double homicide of a Sutter couple, a judge ruled Thursday.
Joseph Simlick is charged with killing Jack and Susan Martin, who were found July 29, 2010, in their burned-out home in the 2200 block of Mulberry Street.
The Sutter County District Attorney's Office on Thursday added a single felony arson count to the charges against Simlick, 22, who faces the death penalty.
Wearing jail shackles and a lime-green jumpsuit, Simlick sat quietly with his head down throughout the preliminary hearing, saying only: "Yes, your honor" when Judge Chris Chandler asked him if he continued to waive his right to a speedy trial.
Simlick remains in custody at the Sutter County Jail without bail. He was ordered to appear Nov. 28 for arraignment.
A packed courtroom heard chilling testimony about a series of 911 calls made on Susan Martin's cellphone the night she died. The actual 911 tapes were not played, despite requests from Simlick's attorney, Jan D. Karowsky.
Several members of the Martin family left the courtroom in tears as Sutter County sheriff's Sgt. David Whiteaker testified about what he has heard on the six separate emergency phone calls.
"There is a female voice screaming: 'Oh my God' and 'God, Joey, don't make me, I always loved you,'" Whiteaker said. "In (the fourth call) I hear a female screaming."
Whiteaker said he also heard a male voice several times in some of the calls that was heard to say: "That's not the plan."
Later, Whiteaker said, the same voice is heard to say: "Hit you in the back of the head."
Portions of the phone calls are inaudible and some contain only broken sentence fragments, Whiteaker said, but, much of the alleged attack can still be heard.
Whiteaker said after one of the calls was disconnected, operators called back and a male voice answered the phone, said: "Hello" and immediately hung up.
Detectives played just that portion of the tapes to the Martin's daughter, Kendall, who identified the male voice as Simlick's, according to testimony Wednesday.
Kendall Martin had previous dated Simlick, but she had ended the relationship, according to Detective Charles Green.
Green testified that Simlick had allegedly slapped Kendall Martin, grabbed her and "squeezed her face until it hurt" on multiple occasions.
Simlick is also facing a battery charge. Kendall Martin is the stated victim in the alleged incident that occurred about four days before the Martins were killed.
Kendall Martin also told detectives that her parents had been angry with Simlick in the hours leading up to the fire. Jack Martin had left several phone messages for Simlick urging him to leave his daughter alone, according to testimony.
Sutter County Fire Battalion Chief Rick Martin testified that Susan Martin's body was found in the burned-out garage, and Jack Martin's was found on the dining room floor. The fire chief said four separate fires were started at various points throughout the house and garage.
Burn and pour patterns at each site were consistent with someone using gasoline and running out of fuel toward the end, the chief said.
"This was definitely an arson fire," the fire chief testified.
Chandler said the cause of death for both victims was "multiple stab wounds."
Testimony also revealed that some of Jack Martin's stab wounds, including some on his head, occurred after he was already dead.
A bloody kitchen knife with a 9-inch blade was recovered at the scene.
Simlick was arrested a few hours after the fire.
Deputies said witnesses saw a man in the area matching Simlick's description and said his shoes matched footprints located in the area. Tire tracks near the scene also appeared to match Simlick's small, red Toyota pickup, according to testimony.
CONTACT reporter Rob Parsons at 749-4785.