Law enforcement takes every murder seriously. But they will admit, if pressed, that it is a little different when it’s one of their own.
And for Vann Tate, it was particularly difficult when he came to assist Jonesville police officer Greg Martin on an October night in 1996.
“I’d come up and said, ‘Greg? Greg, where you at?’” says Tate, remembering that night. “And I never got anything. And as I walked past his car and got just past the left front fender, that’s when I saw Greg’s body lying on the emergency strip near the guardrail.”
Tate was a state trooper and a good friend of Martin’s. He found his friend shot in the head, six times.
“I’ve used the words, ‘executed while you’re doing your job,’ is basically what it was,” says Lloyd Terry, the SBI officer whose job it was to solve the case. “It was the most voluminous case that we had ever worked on at that time, to my knowledge, at the SBI.”
The people for whom it was most difficult, of course, was Martin’s wife and children. Brittany Martin was just six when her dad was killed. Her mother and other family members couldn’t tell her much at that age, of course.
“Truthfully, there are a lot of things of this that haven’t come to my knowledge and I think it’s for the best,” Brittany says.
And for 16 years, the case was cold until a tip and a piece of evidence lead Terry to go to Florida to interview a suspect named Brian Whitaker.
“I’ve interviewed a lot of people in hundreds of homicides. And my prayer was, ‘Lord, don’t let me do anything wrong because this is, this could be it, this could be what we really need,’” Terry says.
Whittaker claimed a man he was with, Scott Sica, was the one who pulled the trigger and killed Martin. And when officers finally had a chance to arrest both and tell Brittany and the family:
“Everybody’s mouth hung open and nobody could really believe the words that we had waited so long,” she says.
Of course, she still misses her father. She says the fact that he won’t be there to walk her down the aisle is part of why she’s put off marriage. She is now 30, herself, as old as her father was when he was killed. But despite all that pain, she says she doesn’t remain bitter toward her father’s killers.
“It isn’t my place,” says Brittany. “Isn’t for me to judge him, he has to deal with what he had done.”
See how Greg Martin was killed, how they found his killers and the way his death has affected his family in this series of Buckley Reports.
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