McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

September 21, 2012

Okla. appeals court reverses life prison sentence

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)
Associated Press

McALESTER — OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma appeals court has ruled that an ineffective defense lawyer contributed to the drug trafficking conviction of a man sentenced to life in prison.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Friday overturned the conviction and sentence of 53-year-old Ronnie Lee Martin and ordered a new trial. Martin has been incarcerated at the James Crabtree Correctional Center in Helena since 2008 after being convicted in Atoka County of trafficking in illegal drugs after three prior felony convictions.

The five-member appeals court said in a unanimous opinion that defense lawyer Caesar Latimer of Tulsa did not provide reasonably effective assistance at Martin’s trial.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has already disciplined Latimer — in part on Martin’s claims — and suspended him for two years and a day.