JONESVILLE — Seventeen years after Sgt. Greg Martin was gunned down during what he believed to be a routine traffic stop in Interstate 77, and one year and two days after a suspect was arrested and charged in his death, family, friends and colleagues gathered to remember the fallen officer.
Martin was shot Oct. 5, 1996, during what started as a routine traffic stop on Interstate 77 a mile south of Exit 82 in Jonesville. His firearm was still holstered, a fact that many point to as a sign the incident happened too quickly for Martin to defend himself. He was 30 years old, the only Jonesville Police Officer to be killed in the line of duty.
On Oct. 3, 2012, Lee County Sheriff’s Office in Florida arrested Scott Vincent Sica on a first-degree murder charge in connection with Martin’s open case.
Two more men — Brian Eugene Whittaker of Cape Coral, Fla., and Marc Peterson Olroyd of Rockwood, Tenn., — also were charged with first-degree murder. Their charges were announced in a grand jury indictment Jan. 28 along with Sica.
Police Chief Roger Reece told the crowd assembled outside the town hall Saturday morning that, though the case may take another year or two to make it to trial, the arrest marked an important step in bringing justice to the case.
Members of Martin’s family and the community joined officers in a procession of police cruisers and private cars as they drove slowly from the town hall along Interstate 77.
The procession passed the spot below exit 82 where Martin was shot as he made the fateful stop that claimed his life. It then proceeded down southbound I-77 to Exit 79 and wound its way back to Jonesville along Highway 21.
Special songs and a recording of bagpipes were played while the audience watched the town’s flag was lowered to half staff.
A special Jonesville Police Department flag was flown in place of the North Carolina flag. The audience was allowed to make comments via a microphone.
Martin’s loved ones had many things to celebrate this year. While the case continues to build against the men charged with Martin’s death, other progress also has been made since 1996.
Martin’s alma mater Surry Community College has named a Basic Law Enforcement Training classroom on its campus for Martin. Pictures and information are posted around the room to honor the memory of SCC’s only BLET graduate to have been killed in the line of duty.
The North Carolina General Assembly also passed legislation this year that allows the governor to increase the maximum amount of reward money offered in a capital case like Martin’s from $10,000 to $100,000.
The FBI helped in Martin’s case to raise the reward amount by $100,000 to help keep the case from going cold and encourage public participation.
Reach Taylor Pardue at 835-1513 ext. 15 or email@example.com.