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Man dies in Lexington shooting; neighbor arrested

A mother and unsigned local hip-hop artist was charged with murder after a fatal shooting Wednesday at an apartment complex near Fontaine Road and Lakeshore Drive.

Just before noon, Latarra Nicole Martin, also known as "Doll Baby," shot and killed the man who lived across the hall from her at 209 Lakeshore Drive, Lexington police said.

The victim, Jeff Wilburn, was lying in the building's parking lot when police and firefighters arrived. He was taken to the University of Kentucky Hospital, where he died.

Martin was arrested and charged with murder, Lexington Police spokeswoman Ann Gutierrez said. Martin admitted to police that she shot Wilburn, according to Fayette District Court records. She will be arraigned at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Gutierrez said detectives were not sure what prompted the shooting. She said Martin, 25, appeared confused and "was not making much sense" when she was arrested.

"That's going to take some more investigation to figure out that," she said.

Police said the shooting occurred about 11:54 a.m. just outside apartment 3 at Lakeshore Apartments, 209 Lakeshore Drive, where Wilburn lived. Wilburn, 48, was the maintenance supervisor for Modern Property Management, the company that owns Lakeshore Apartments.

Before the shooting, Wilburn and a crew had been next door at 201 Lakeshore working on an apartment and were taking a lunch break in his apartment.

Witnesses said four people — including the maintenance workers — were inside Wilburn's apartment when Martin began banging on the door.

One of Wilburn's co-workers, George Cormack, said Martin said she needed to talk to Wilburn. He said Wilburn went into the hall, and moments later he heard gunshots.

"I thought it was fireworks," Cormack said.

Wilburn stumbled through the doorway, saying he'd been shot, and Martin followed him, aiming the gun at Cormack and others ducking in the apartment.

"She aimed at me and it went click, click," he said, his eyes wide. "She was out" of bullets.

Cormack said he grabbed a chair and threw it at Martin, and then he and Wilburn smashed through a patio door to escape. He said Wilburn, who was his supervisor, had been shot in the left chest and lower back.

When police arrived, Gutierrez said, Martin was inside her apartment and was arrested without incident.

Gutierrez said there were children standing in the hallway after the shooting. A neighbor, Krystal Billa, said the three young children belonged to the woman, but said she did not know her or the children's names.

"There are kids inside, and it's breaking my heart," she said.

Police said the children were staying with a family member.

A MySpace.com site for Latarra Martin identifies her as "Doll Baby," a local hip-hop artist. The site has a black background with yellow borders down the side with her stage name in the style of police tape.

After the shooting, several residents gathered outside the two apartments, asking for information. Several called Wilburn a friend as well as a neighbor and maintenance supervisor.

"There's not a person around here who would say a bad thing about him," said Tim Sayles. He said Wilburn was a "great bass guitar player," and that he thought Wilburn's band was supposed to practice Wednesday night.

Judy Hughes said Wilburn was divorced and had a son and daughter. He had talked about wanting to buy a boat, she said.

Jim Uzzell, 67, said he often ate dinner and watched Jeopardy! with Wilburn. He said Wilburn was seen on the roof, repairing a leak, during January's ice storm.

"He'd do anything for anybody," he said.

Tim Scott, owner of Modern Property Management, said Wilburn was a "good, solid guy" who had worked for the company about two years. Scott said he was not aware of a motive for the shooting. He said maintenance workers are often exposed to "a lot of different people."

Of Wilburn, he said, "You could call him 24 hours a day, give him a bad job, and he would cheerfully go do it."

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