Murder suspect Roe denied knowing about doctor's death, Lexington detective says

Marty Roe entered Fayette District Court for a preliminary hearing in November. He was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the slaying of Lexington Dermatologist Martha Post.
Marty Roe entered Fayette District Court for a preliminary hearing in November. He was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the slaying of Lexington Dermatologist Martha Post. Herald-Leader

Suspect Marty Roe denied knowing anything about Dr. Martha Post's slaying during an interview after his arrest in 2011 in Ohio, Lexington police detective Chris Schoonover testified Monday during Roe's trial.

Schoonover said Roe's initial reaction to news that the Lexington dermatologist was dead was "She's what? Oh, my God. Oh, man."

But Schoonover also testified that Roe referred to Post in the past tense before learning she was dead.

Schoonover said Roe said at one point during an interview at the Logan County, Ohio, sheriff's office, "She was a beautiful lady."

Roe's trial entered its second week in Fayette Circuit Court. He is accused of murder, tampering with evidence and harassing communications. If convicted of murder, Roe faces 20 years to life in prison.

Post, 55, was shot three times on Sept. 1, 2011, as she backed her van out of the parking lot of her medical office on Huguenard Drive.

Roe had formerly lived in the basement of the office building where Post and her husband, Dr. Robert Truitt, had their offices. Roe had been a guest at Post and Truitt's home at Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Previous testimony during the trial has shown that, after he was dismissed as a maintenance man for the building, Roe had left multiple phone messages and texts for Post that professed his love for her.

Roe, 67, was arrested Sept. 7, 2011, in Lakeview, Ohio, north of Dayton. Schoonover said Roe was initially "conversational" and "cooperative" during an interview that lasted more than six hours, with five breaks.

Roe said during the interview that "Martha Post loved him" and that while their relationship was not sexual, Roe "said he had feelings for her as well," Schoonover testified.

Roe also said he thought "Martha Post was the only woman who loved him," Schoonover testified. But Roe told Schoonover "he didn't want to be in love with a married woman."

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Cindy Rieker asked Schoonover what stood out to him about the interview with Roe.

Schoonover said that, shortly after Roe was told that Post was dead, Roe mentioned that "a little Mexican and an African-American" sometimes cut through the parking lot of the Huguenard Drive office building. Schoonover said Roe volunteered this information even though "no one had told him where the murder had happened."

Roe "never really asked" where Post was killed, Schoonover testified.

At another point, Roe asked, "Why did she have to park there?"

These were clues that "we're looking at the right guy" as a suspect, Schoonover said.

Schoonover acknowledged police were looking at Truitt during in the early stages of the investigation. Police have said they later eliminated Truitt as a suspect.

The defense argued in its opening statement that Truitt stood to gain from his wife's death because he was the beneficiary of a $1.5 million life-insurance settlement.

Under cross-examination by defense co-counsel Shannon Brooks-English, Schoonover acknowledged that Roe said during the interview, "You don't hurt people you love."

And Schoonover testified that Roe "denied knowing anything about her death."

Roe said he thought Post was having a relationship with a police officer, Schoonover testified. It wasn't clear whether Roe knew the officer's name; in any case, the officer wasn't identified in court.

The jury also heard from Sgt. Tony Robinson of the Logan County, Ohio, sheriff's office, who transported Roe to jail.

At one point, Roe said "he could understand why someone could shoot their wife and then shoot themselves," Robinson testified.

The jury also learned more about the handgun that police say was used to shoot Post.

The Bersa .380, manufactured in Argentina and imported to the United States, was found next to the battery in the engine compartment of the Ford van registered to Roe. The van was parked outside the Lakeview, Ohio, bar where Roe was arrested.

Claude Allen Newby Jr. of Lexington testified he bought the gun at a 1999 gun show at Rupp Arena. Newby said he later sold it to Roe but couldn't remember what year the sale took place.

Earlier testimony said three shell casings found inside and outside the van at the shooting scene matched that gun.

Detective Bill Brislin, lead investigator on the case, acknowledged under cross-examination by Brooks-English that Truitt also owned a gun. But on redirect by Rieker, Brislin said the gun owned by Truitt was a revolver that would not eject shell casings.

"It's not the gun we're looking for," Brislin said.

In other testimony, the jury heard from a painter who was commissioned by Roe to paint a portrait of Post.

Patrick Lynch, who works at the Lexington Public Library, said he had known Roe since about 1990 because "he was a regular patron" of the library. One day Roe asked Lynch if he could do a painting of a woman.

"He was going to ask her to marry him," Lynch testified. "... I thought I was aiding the cause of romance."

Roe gave Lynch a photograph of Post identical to the one police later found secured to a sun visor in the van found in Ohio.

At the end Monday's proceedings, Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael Jr. told jurors there was "some optimism we'll get the case to you on Wednesday."

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader