Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
David Clark Elliot, 11(1) Tied a dog to a tree with a chain, cut her to pieces with a weedwhacker

Lakeland, FL

Polk County

August 14, 1997  
Frederick Martin, IV, 13(2) Tied a dog to a tree with a chain, cut her to pieces with a weedwhacker

Lakeland, FL

Polk County

August 14, 1997  
Frederick Martin, III, 36(3) contempt of court for stating under oath son had never been in trouble before

Lakeland, FL

Polk County

August 14, 1997  
Janet L. Martin, 33(3) contempt of court for stating under oath son had never been in trouble before

Lakeland, FL

Polk County

August 14, 1997  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
Felony

(1)criminal threatening

(2)wanted in NH for killing a sheep & 4 pigs

a 2-year-old cocker spaniel/poodle mix

(1) Convicted, pled down to a misdemeanor

(2)Found incompetent to stand trial

(3)Found in contempt of court

 

At age 11 David, and Frederick, age 13, tied a neighbor's dog to a tree with a chain around her neck, then slashed her throat and severed her paws and tail with a weed whacker.  The dog's remains were discarded in a foam cooler and dumped in a trash bin.

After Elliot's arrest, a felony charge of tampering with a witness was added based on allegations that he threatened Linda Black's daughter, Desra, for talking to the police. Elliot also made threats of killing Blacks cat.

Linda Black was the owner of the dog whose name was Zoey.  Black said her 12-year-old daughter, 16-year-old son and 20-year-old son have been traumatized by the dog's death.

Black said she was horrified when she found out the dog's tail and paws were cut off and its neck slashed by the gas-powered lawn tool.  "I just can't fathom it, and neither can most people," said Black, who has lived in her double-wide mobile home with her 3 children since May. "To dismember a dog with a Weedwhacker is just out and out cruelty."

Black said she won't replace the 18-pound white dog she raised from birth,   Zoey wouldn't have hurt anyone, and probably would have licked a burglar entering her house. "That they killed her, I can live with that. But how they killed her, that makes me sick."

Daughter Desra, goes to the same school as Elliot and Martin.

Attorneys agreed to the plea after Polk Circuit Judge Daniel True Andrews revealed in court that Martin had a juvenile record in NH for mutilating a sheep and 4 pigs and his parents had outstanding warrants for not bring him to court.

Elliot pled no contest to reduce the charges to misdemeanor animal cruelty in September 1997.  He was released on house arrest pending an October 22nd sentencing.

Martin went to court expecting to testify how his 11-year-old friend forced him to mutilate a neighbor’s small dog with a weed whacker.  Instead Martin found himself squirming from discovery that Martin had a history of animal cruelty charges in New Hampshire. (See casefile Stabbed sheep & slashed 4 pigs)

Martin entered a guilty plea on September 16th and had agreed to testify against Elliot, but Judge Andrews' discovery weakened Martins' credibility.  Martin spent time in the Polk County Juvenile Facility.  Upon his release he was put on house arrest pending an October 8th hearing on whether he can withdraw a guilty plea.

Martin's parents, Janet and Frederick Martin, III, entered written not guilty pleas to charged they perjured themselves in court.  They have been charged with contempt.  A videotape of young Martin's plea hearing showed his parents coaching him to answer, "No" when Judge Andrews asked if he had a juvenile record.  The parents also face contempt charges in Polk County for failing to tell the judge about their son's prior criminal problems in NH.  Judge Andrews has since removed himself from the case because he might be a witness against the Martins.

Each boy faced a maximum sentence of 5 years in a juvenile facility.

High-profile defense attorney Jack Edmund represented Martin, IV for free after the case against his co-defendant (David Clark Elliot) was reduced to misdemeanor charges in exchange for no-contest pleas.  Edmund wanted to defend the boy because he believes Martin was treated unfairly.  "When a child with an IQ of 57 enters a guilty plea, there is something wrong,"  He will ask the court for a continuance and try to set aside that guilty plea.

The Florida Assistant State Attorney, Tammy Glotfelty said she was worried Martins' parents might try to flee the state with him, as they did in New Hampshire.

Update 9/9/97:
Since the boys arrest on September 4th, the boys have been held in the juvenile center. Martin's lawyer, Byron Hileman, asked Andrews to release the boy to his parents because Elliot had assaulted and threatened Martin.

"Prior to Martin's arrest, Elliot stabbed at his neck with a fork because he had talked to the police," Hileman told Judge Andrews. "Since he has been at the center, he has been struck by Elliot and threatened."  Martin stood at the podium and cried as Hileman explained his fear of Elliot to Andrews.

Elliot is also being investigated on charges of arson for setting numerous fires within the mobile home park where he and Martin live.

Elliot has undergone psycho-analysis for 7 years, his mother, Virginia Elliot, told Judge Andrews.

Martin's lawyer, Byron Hileman, asked Judge Andrews to release the boy to his parents because Elliot had assaulted and threatened him.

Judge Andrews denied the release request, but did take action. "I want these boys separated," Andrews told juvenile center representatives. "I want Martin placed in isolation and I want daily reports on whether he is being threatened.

Update 10/23/97:
FL Circuit Judge J. David Langford ruled that the young Martin was incompetent to stand trial on the felony charges. Judge Langford ordered a psychological evaluation for the boy and asked him to appear in January 1998 for the court to determine if he is fit to stand trial.  Martin will undergo treatment at the Brown School in Tampa.

Judge Langford ordered Elliot to continue wearing an electronic monitoring device on his angle, stay away from the Black family, write a letter of apology to the family and participate in mental health counseling and a family therapy program.  The judge said his choice to continued house arrest rather than probation was based on statements made by Elliot's mother, Virginia, who said her son has a long history of being treated for psychiatric problems.  Although his mother has full custody of Elliot, the judge ordered him to remain with his father David, while serving his sentence.  FL Department of Children and Families is investigating Virginia in part due to the case against her son.

Martins parents have entered pleas of not guilty to the contempt charges. A hearing will be held, probably in November, to determine their guilt or innocence.

Update 11/7/97: Janet and Frederick Martin, III will be extradited to New Hampshire for fleeing from NH to Lackeland, FL to escape their son's animal cruelty charges, according to a warrant.  The Martin's left Ossipee, NH in January 1997 before young Martin could go to trial in February.  Martin, IV was charged in New Hampshire in October 1996 with sexually mutilating a sheep and 4 pigs.  When the Martin's didn't show up Carroll County NH District Judge Pamela Albee issued a bench warrant for their arrest and set bail at $2,500 each.  Ossipee Police Chief Rich Morgan said he would ask that the Martins be extradited.

Janet Martin said she was concerned about what might happen to her children if she and her husband were extradited.

In October 1997, FL Circuit Judge J. David Langford ruled that the young Martin was incompetent to stand trial on the felony charges. Judge Langford ordered a psychological evaluation for the boy and asked him to appear in January 1998 for the court to determine if he is fit to stand trial.

Update 1/25/98:
The Martins have been convicted of contempt of court for lying about their son's prior charges of cruelty to animals.

Frederick Martin III, 36, was sentenced to five months in jail. Janet Martin, 33, will be sentenced this summer after she answers charges in Ossipee, NH

On 3 occasions the Martins were asked whether their son had been in trouble before. They said he hadn't, according to testimony presented by Assistant State Attorney Brad Copley.

In September, they shook their heads no when answering Circuit Judge Daniel True Andrews about whether the boy had been in trouble before.

There was testimony the couple had been asked the same questions by Lakeland Police Detective Sharon Olender and by the boy's attorney, Bryan Hileman of Winter Haven with similar results.

Elliot plead to a lesser misdemeanor animal cruelty charge and was sentenced October 22, 1997 to 2 years house arrest and mental health counseling.

Martin, IV was found incompetent to stand trial. His case is on hold.

The Martins defense attorneys argued that the judge's questions to Janet and Frederick Martin about whether their son ever had been "in trouble" before were not specific enough.

But Circuit Judge Dennis P. Maloney held "both parents deliberately misled" court officials. "You still don't seem to understand the necessity of telling the truth in court," Judge Maloney said.

Reference:

St. Petersburg Times The Tampa Tribune
The Manchester Union Leader The Ledger