YADKINVILLE — On Tuesday, Scott Vincent Sica, a suspect in the 1996 slaying of Jonesville police officer Sgt. Greg Martin, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Sica was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus additional time for the robbery charge. If the case had gone to trial, Sica could have faced the death penalty.
Martin was killed on Oct. 5, 1996, after pulling over a red Dodge pickup truck on Interstate 77 just outside of Jonesville. Sica was arrested in October 2012 along with two other men, Marc Peterson Oldroyd and Brian Eugene Whittaker, who are also on the docket for this week in Yadkin County Superior Court.
During the proceedings, Jonesville PD Detective Ron Perry, formerly of the State Bureau of Investigation, testified about the details of the 18-year-long investigation that concluded with the arrest of the three suspects, Sica, Oldroyd and Whittaker. Perry worked on the case while serving with the SBI, and upon his retirement from the SBI, Perry was asked to join the Jonesville Police Department as a detective, with his primary responsibility to be the continued investigation of Martin’s death.
Perry’s testimony detailed the story of three Florida men who robbed a bank and a Home Depot in Florida and then set out across the country, quickly running through their stolen cash by purchasing dirt bikes and a utility trailer. When the money ran out, the three men headed to North Carolina where a family member of Oldroyd’s, who worked at Belmont Abby College, offered them a free place to stay. Still low on funds, another robbery was planned and that was what brought the trio to Jonesville on Oct. 5 and ended with the murder of Sgt. Martin.
Perry shared previous statements from Whittaker, who claimed that Sica shot Martin multiple times as he was searching their vehicle following a botched robbery attempt at the Huddle House in Jonesville. According to the autopsy report, Martin was shot six times in the head at close range.
Following Perry’s testimony, Sica’s lawyers, Vincent Rable and Dan Dolan, asked several follow-up questions in an apparent attempt to show some doubt about details of the case. One point the defense brought up was the fact that despite testimony that the shots were fired from the passenger side of the vehicle, where Sica was standing, towards Martin who was looking inside the vehicle, there was no bullet damage to the vehicle. Sica’s attorney’s claimed that Brian Whittaker, the driver of the vehicle, was in fact the shooter, but said they chose to accept the plea deal in order to avoid the death penalty.
Rable also read a letter from Sica’s parents, who were not present in courtroom. The letter portrayed Sica at the time of the shooting as a child who had made a mistake. Sica was 21 at the time of the shooting. Upon returning home from a 10-year stint in prison for robbery, the letter described now 31-year-old Sica as “a builder, a healer, a doer” who “made you see the beauty around you.” Sica’s parents expressed sorrow for the Martin family on the loss of Greg Martin and said now it was their time for sorrow. Additional letters from Sica’s friends in Florida described a kindly and charitable man who fished and shared his catch with neighbors and friends.
Several of Martin’s family members were in the courtroom, including his wife, children and siblings. There were many quiet tears shed by the family members during the proceedings. Martin’s sister, Melissa Blakley, addressed the court and read a brief statement expressing her anger over the “ruthless, cruel, heartless execution” of her brother.
Blakley said she was at least glad to know that Sica would not be able to hurt another family like he had hurt hers. Blakley also expressed anger over the fact that Sica’s family will still be able to visit him in prison and hear his voice while her family can only visit a cemetery and hear silence. Blakley said that “through God’s grace and mercy” the family would “overcome a little more every day.”
Letters from Martin’s wife and children were read by District Attorney Tom Horner. Horner was visibly shaken while reading a letter from Martin’s daughter Brittany where she expressed her pain “like a knife in the heart” over the loss of her father when she was only 6 years old. Horner had to stop briefly to compose himself as he continued reading the letter.
Sica was given the opportunity to speak, he stood, made a nearly silent choked sound as if he were about to cry and immediately sat back down. Again Sica’s lawyers asked for the judge’s consideration of “mitigating circumstances” in the sentencing, particularly in relation to the additional time for the attempted robbery.
At the close of the proceedings, Horner gave a heated recommendation to the judge not to consider mitigating circumstances. Horner referred to the defense team’s frequent use of the word “unfortunate” to describe the events of Oct. 5 that lead to Martin’s death. Horner said “unfortunate” could refer to accidentally backing over one’s cat in the driveway or sliding on rain-slick roads, but not to the brutal murder of Greg Martin.
“What’s unfortunate is that we weren’t able to catch [Sica] before now,” Horner said.
Judge Wood called the case a “tragedy” but commended Perry for “sticking with the case.” He also expressed his condolences to the Martin family and though he said justice was “imperfect” and couldn’t “bring the victim back,” he said he hoped the family’s healing could begin now.
Kitsey E. Burns can be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.