Marty Roe found guilty of murder in Lexington dermatologist's death

gkocher1@herald-leader.com,By Greg KocherAugust 14, 2013 

A Fayette Circuit Court jury on Wednesday found Marty Roe guilty of murder in the 2011 shooting death of Lexington dermatologist Dr. Martha Post.

The jury also found Roe guilty of tampering with evidence and harassing communications. The jury recommended that Roe, 67, serve a life sentence in prison on the murder charge, and five years in prison on the tampering charge. The earliest he would be eligible for parole is in 20 years. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 17.

"Whatever you sentence him to," defense attorney Clay Sousley told the jury, "it's likely to be a life sentence."

The verdict came after about four hours of deliberations.

When the trial was over, Charlie Post of Harrisburg, Pa., Martha Post's brother, took issue with the defense strategy of portraying his brother-in-law, Dr. Robert Truitt, as an alternative culprit.

"We're so pleased with the verdict. It was so terribly hard to hear the defense falsely accuse an innocent man, brother-in-law, good friend and good man of facilitating the murder of my sister, one of the world's most generous and loving people, whom he and all of us loved deeply," Charlie Post said.

Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson said the verdict "renewed his faith in the common sense of Fayette County jurors."

"This case, if you followed the facts, there could be no other conclusion," Larson said.

Defense co-counsel Shannon Brooks-English said she will be getting Roe's appeal in order.

On Sept. 1, 2011, Martha Post, 55, was shot in the neck, chest and left thigh as she backed her van out of the parking lot of her office on Huegenard Drive.

Roe is a former homeless man whom Post hired as a maintenance man for the building where she and her husband worked. Testimony at trial indicated that Roe was dismissed from the job because of his drinking.

The prosecution portrayed Roe as a man so obsessed with Post that he shot her when she did not reciprocate his affections or return numerous calls and texts.

The defense contended that Truitt stood to gain from Post's death because he was the beneficiary of a $1.5 million life insurance policy.

Brooks-English began her closing argument with the same words that she said Truitt uttered when informed that his wife was dead: "Was she shot? Was the (van) window rolled down?"

Both were true; she had been shot, and the window of Post's van had been partially rolled down. The defense attorneys portrayed Truitt as having something to do with his wife's death, but they never said exactly what that was.

Nevertheless, Brooks-English cast Truitt's spontaneous questions as coming "from a man with a guilty conscience."

"I'm not saying he pulled the trigger," she said. "But what I am saying is he knew what was up. Marty was the perfect patsy."

Noting that police found the gun used to shoot Post in the engine compartment of Roe's van, Brooks-English posed this to the jury: "Who kills somebody and drives around with the murder weapon for a week? It doesn't make sense."

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Cindy Rieker countered that the case was about facts, "not speculation, not innuendo."

The facts pointed to Roe as the culprit, Rieker argued.

"Is he a patsy or is he a killer? That's the question you have to decide," Rieker told the jury.

Rieker said Truitt spent some of the life insurance money to pay the debts left by Post's practice after her death.

"He didn't have to do that, but he did," Rieker said.

Rieker said Roe never tried to contact Post via phone message or text after Sept. 1, 2011.

"He knew she was dead. He knew she was dead before he was ever told she was dead," Rieker said. "He did it. He did it. Do not be misled by things that are not evidence. This is about the facts of the case."

Roe did not take the stand during the six-day trial.

Before resting its case, the defense called Truitt back to the witness stand. Truitt had testified as a prosecution witness last week.

Defense co-counsel Robert Friedman asked Truitt, "Isn't it true you encouraged Dr. Post to take out more life insurance?"

When Truitt answered negatively, Friedman pressed and asked whether Truitt denied it.

"Yes, I deny encouraging her to take out more insurance," Truitt said.

Friedman asked Truitt whether he remembered telling another doctor that he "knew somebody who could 'fix' Marty Roe?"

"I deny saying I knew somebody who could 'fix' Marty Roe," Truitt said.

Later, the defense called Dr. Sarah Smith, who was a part-time dermatologist in Post's practice.

Smith testified that two days after Post's death, she had a telephone conversation with Truitt. In that conversation, Truitt expressed the hope that Roe "would commit suicide by cop," and that if Roe didn't, Truitt "knew some really bad people" who would take care of Roe.

Smith also said she recalled a day when Martha Post took the afternoon off because she was going to have a physical examination for insurance purposes.

"Dr. Truitt thought she didn't have enough life insurance," Smith said.

During cross-examination, Larson asked Smith whether Roe's name crossed her mind upon learning of Post's death.

"Yes, sir, it did," Smith said.

Larson also asked whether there was any question in Smith's mind about who Truitt "thought killed his wife?"

"No," Smith said.

Also Wednesday, the jury heard testimony from Luke Trenz, who is employed by Scroggins, an Ohio consulting firm that works with medical practices to improve their business.

Trenz said Post's dermatology practice had Truitt's employees on its payroll. Had Post not done that, Trenz testified, "Dr. Truitt's practice would not be able to meet its expenses."

However, on the day of the shooting, Trenz testified that he and Post had gone over a plan to make changes. Those changes included taking Truitt's employees off the dermatology practice's payroll, and letting go some of Dr. Post's physician's assistants.

"It was my understanding Dr. Truitt was made aware" of those coming changes, Trenz testified.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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