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Friday, May 24th, 2013

Martin pleads guilty to murdering girlfriend

By Margie Wuebker
Daniel C. Martin pleaded guilty this morning in Mercer County Common Pleas Court to murdering his live-in girlfriend, Melinda "Mindi" Shinn, at the mobile home they shared in Rockford.
The 40-year-old Martin showed no emotion during the hastily scheduled change of plea hearing, shrugging his shoulders after quietly entering "guilty" to Judge Jeffrey Ingraham's request for a plea.
Relatives of Shinn held and wore photographs of her. Muffled cries could be heard throughout the courtroom.
Martin faces 15 years to life in connection with the first-degree felony murder of 26-year-old Shinn on Nov. 8 plus an additional mandatory three years for using a firearm in commission of the crime. Sentencing is slated for June 27.
Ingraham noted the Ohio Parole Authority could grant probation after completion of eight years. He added the court has no input in that decision.
As part of a negotiated agreement, Mercer County Prosecutor Matt Fox reserved the right to argue at the time of sentencing. The agreement, which comes after months of meetings between Fox and defense attorneys David William Bruns and Jeffrey P. Knapke, reportedly came late Thursday afternoon.
Shinn's body was found shortly before 11 a.m. Nov. 8 when concerned relatives contacted authorities, fearing she had been murdered.
Rockford police chief Paul May entered the North Street home and found her lying in a doorway between the hall and the bathroom. An autopsy performed at the Lucas County Coroner's Office in Toledo confirmed a gunshot wound to the head as the cause of death.
The couple had been fighting in the hours leading up to the shooting, according to Fox. Shinn's 9-year-old son reportedly heard the couple engaged in an argument before his mother screamed "No! No!"
During a recitation of facts related to the case, Fox said the child heard "popping noises" in the wake of the screams. The child got out of bed and spoke to Martin, who reportedly made several admissions about the murder.
Martin then placed his handgun on a chair before he and the boy left in an SUV bound for Fort Wayne, Ind., where he has relatives and friends, according to Fox.
Fox said Martin also made admissions regarding the murder to people he encountered there.
Relatives who were not identified then drove the boy to the home of his paternal grandparents in Mendon.    
Martin's SUV was found abandoned hours later in Fort Wayne. A combined effort by the Mercer County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Federal Marshals led to his Jan. 2 arrest in Fort Wayne.
Authorities stormed a house where he had been staying and found him taking a shower. An AK-47 assault rifle was found nearby, but he was taken into custody without incident.
He has been incarcerated without bond since the apprehension and return to Mercer County.
Fox requested no bond early in the court proceedings due to the seriousness of the crime and the risk of flight Martin presented.
With a conviction in one murder case, authorities are preparing for another case involving the shooting deaths of Robert and Colleen Grube in November 2011 at their Burrville Road home near Fort Recovery.
Trevin Sanders Roark, a 19-year-old Union City resident, has a hearing slated June 7 in Mercer County Juvenile Court. The hearing, to be conducted by Judge Mary Pat Zitter, is a required step before eventual transfer of the case to common pleas court.
Sanders Roark, who has entered a denial plea to a 27-count complaint, was 17 at the time he allegedly committed the murders.
He remains incarcerated on a $1 million bond.
Bryant L. Rhoades, 22, also of Union City, has been indicted on one count of obstructing justice, a third-degree felony, in connection with the Grube murders. The charge alleges he conveyed false information to detectives investigating the case.
Rhoades remains incarcerated on a $3.5 million bond subject to 10 percent. His next scheduled court proceeding is a June 18 pretrial hearing.
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