Guilty plea in Yuba Goldfields death
An Olivehurst man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to shooting and killing a Colorado man in June during an argument over money.
Joseph Aaron Martin accepted a deal with the Yuba County District Attorney's Office, pleading to second-degree murder in exchange for a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
Martin, 22, admitted killing Christopher Lawrence Russell, 33, on June 14 in the Yuba Goldfields area of Yuba County, about three miles downstream from the Parks Bar Bridge.
"He pleaded to shooting the victim in an argument over money," said Mike Byrne, deputy Yuba County district attorney.
Russell's body was found laying outside a white Ford F-150 pickup near a tree on an unnamed gravel road. He was faceup on the ground, his legs wrapped around the rear tire.
Multiple shell casings were strewn around the scene, investigators said.
Byrne said Russell had loaned about $20,000 in cash to an unidentified relative of Martin's.
Russell's family declined comment on Wednesday.
Martin shot Russell six times and fled in a vehicle with a cracked oil pan, leaving a trail of motor oil leading back to Marysville. Martin was arrested a few hours later when he called a tow truck for his disabled getaway car, authorities said.
The Olivehurst man quickly admitted to the killing under questioning, Yuba County sheriff's officials said.
During the investigation, authorities seized $70,060 in drug money that belonged to Martin, but Byrne said the money was not part of the homicide case.
"That's not the money they were fighting over," Byrne said.
Martin entered his plea before retired Judge Dennis Buckley in Yuba County Superior Court.
Prosecutors reduced the charge from first-degree to second-degree murder as part of the deal, authorities said.
Martin's criminal history includes a grand theft conviction in 2008 for stealing more than $6,000 in guns, jewelry and cameras from a Yuba County home, according to court records.
Russell's family may address the court when Martin is sentenced on March 14.
CONTACT Rob Parsons at email@example.com or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.