Martin Edward Goodwin, Jr.

GOODWIN

ELKTON — A Cecil County man who intentionally ran over a rival at least twice in a matter of seconds — killing him — while driving a sport utility vehicle near North East in 2020 received an 80-year prison term on Tuesday.

Cecil County Circuit Court Administrative Judge Keith A. Baynes imposed a life sentence on the defendant, Martin Edward Goodwin Jr., 42, of North East, for first-degree murder and then suspended all but 80 years of the penalty.

In August, at the conclusion of a five-day-long bench trial, Baynes found Goodwin guilty of first-degree murder, which includes the element of premeditation. The judge also found Goodwin guilty of second-degree murder, which merged into the more serious charge during Tuesday’s sentencing.

Baynes explained from the bench while delivering those guilty verdicts that he was “convinced beyond a reasonable doubt” that Goodwin deliberately struck North East-area resident Mark Scott Jackson, 39, twice with a gold Jeep Patriot at approximately 1:45 a.m. on Sept. 5, 2020 near the intersection of Lums Road and Route 272 as Jackson and another man, who witnessed the murder, were walking together.

The judge noted that he considered “the totality of evidence, both direct and circumstantial” before concluding that Goodwin willfully killed Jackson with premeditation.

Goodwin will serve his 80-year term in a Maryland Department of Corrections prison. Because Goodwin was convicted of a crime of violence, he must serve half of his sentence — 40 years — before he would be eligible for his first parole hearing. Goodwin would be approximately 82 years old at that point.

In addition to the 80-year term, Baynes ordered Goodwin to serve five years of supervised probation after he is released from prison.

Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Sentman, who prosecuted Goodwin at trial, recommended that the judge sentence Goodwin to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Making a contingency recommendation, in the event that the judge believed Goodwin should have a chance at parole, Sentman then asked that Goodwin receive a life sentence with all but 80 years suspended — a request that Baynes granted.

Assistant Public Defender Deborah Warner-Dennis asked that Goodwin receive a penalty less than life without the possibility of parole.

Goodwin, who had elected not to testify on his own behalf at trial three months ago, declined his right to address the judge at sentencing on Tuesday.

After the sentence hearing, Cecil County State’s Attorney James Dellmyer lauded Sentman for his successful prosecution of Goodwin.

Dellmyer also applauded all of the law enforcement officers involved in the successful, multi-departmental murder investigation, including Maryland State Police Crash Team Sgt. Daniel Rumaker and the lead investigator, MSP Cpl. Det. Nathan Wilson, who is assigned to the agency’s Homicide Unit.

“It is my hope that this sentence can aid in the healing process of Mr. Jackson’s family and that they feel the judicial system has lived up to its responsibility in providing justice for Mark’s death,” Dellmyer commented.

Motive for murder

Trial testimony indicated that Maryland State Police investigators, with the help of other law enforcement agencies, including the Perryville Police Department (PPD), developed Goodwin as a murder suspect — one who had motive to kill Jackson.

Goodwin and Jackson, who had known each other for many years, had been feuding, according to testimony given by Brittany Chadwick, a Cecil County woman with whom Goodwin and his girlfriend had been living for a few weeks before the murder.

Chadwick said she was aware of at least one fight that Goodwin and Jackson had with each other, noting that Jackson had gotten the better of Goodwin and that, because of that, Jackson vowed to exact deadly revenge.

“After he (Jackson) beat him up, he (Goodwin) said he was going to kill him,” Chadwick said, detailing that Goodwin declared that he would kill Jackson while he and Chadwick were standing in their driveway “a couple of weeks before he (Goodwin) killed him (Jackson).”

Jackson’s stepfather, Mark Gilbert, also was aware that there had been bad blood between Jackson and Goodwin, whom he sometimes referred to as J.R., a nickname, during his testimony. He, too, testified that there had been threats. Jackson had been living with Gilbert at his North East-area home at the time of his murder.

“Him and (Goodwin) got into a couple of fights a couple of weeks before he was killed. As soon as they (police) told me he was killed, I said it was Mr. Goodwin (because) he threatened to kill him,” Gilbert testified.

The deadly attack

Zane Foley, 37, now of South Dakota, testified that he and Jackson were walking together westward on Lums Road toward the Route 272 intersection shortly before 2 a.m. on Sept. 5, 2020, after buying cigarettes and scratch-off lottery tickets respectively at the nearby Flying J Travel Center store.

Foley testified that he heard the revving engine of what he believed to be a silver sport utility vehicle, which was behind them on Lums Road, and that he then noticed the reaction of Jackson, who was talking on his cell phone at the time.

“He looked over his left shoulder and took off running . . . It was instant fear. He looked pretty scared,” Foley testified.

The driver of that vehicle “put the pedal to the floor” and plowed into Jackson from behind, knocking him into the intersection, according to Foley’s account.

An MSP investigator testified that the impact propelled Jackson through the air and that he landed in the intersection, 119 feet away from where he had been struck by SUV.

“When he (Jackson) landed, he (the driver) made sure he hit him again. He lined up and ran over him a second time,” Foley testified.

After that, the SUV driver crossed the intersection, turned into the nearby Liquor World parking lot, off the western section of Lums Road, across Route 272 from the Flying J, and then made a quick U-turn there, before speeding away and making a left turn onto northbound Route 272.

A surveillance camera at the Liquor World videotaped the fatal vehicular attack, the U-turn and the swift getaway.

Foley, who had been walking a short distance away from Jackson when the SUV ran over Jackson the first time, called 911, he said. Jackson was pronounced dead at the scene some 30 minutes later, according to testimony given by paramedics.

During his testimony, Foley noted that he did not know Jackson, per se, having met him for the first time earlier that morning as they crossed paths while walking to the Flying J from their separate residences less than a half-mile from the store.

Foley was able to describe the suspect vehicle only as a silver SUV, reminiscent of a Jeep Grant Cherokee to him, and noted that it had a Delaware license plate.

But he could not identify or even describe the driver because he did not see that person.

Linked to ‘murder weapon’

Sentman, who called 23 witnesses while presenting the state’s case, linked Goodwin to the gold Jeep Patriot that was used to intentionally run over Jackson.

Donald Dacey testified that he sold that Jeep Patriot to Goodwin in August 2020 and that Goodwin paid cash for it. He further testified that the Jeep Patriot was in running condition and that it did not have any body damage indicative of a crash.

At approximately 6:45 a.m. on Sept. 5, 2020, some five hours after the deadly vehicular attack, PPD Officer David Leas found what appeared to be an abandoned gold Jeep Patriot parked in vacant commercial lot in the unit block of Heather Drive, according to his testimony.

The SUV showed heavy front-end damage and was unlocked, he testified.

That gold Jeep Patriot remained there until Sept. 9, 2020, when MSP investigators arranged for the SUV to be towed to a secured garage at the agency’s North East Barrack, after developing information indicating that that gold Jeep Patriot was used to kill Jackson, according to state testimony.

MSP forensics investigators were able to link that gold Jeep Patriot to the murder scene. Investigators found blood under the front section of that SUV, and scientific testing revealed that the blood was Jackson’s blood, according to law enforcement testimony.

Sentman noted at trial that Jackson was wearing at blue sweatshirt at the time he was killed, and that investigators recovered blue fabric similar to that sweatshirt, if not the same, beneath the front end of the gold Jeep Patriot.

Forensic investigators testified that DNA samples were taken from the steering wheel and gearshift of the gold Jeep Patriot, as well as from a black coronavirus protection mask found near the SUV’s driver’s seat, and then compared those items with a DNA sample taken from Goodwin.

Testimony from the forensic investigators indicated that Goodwin was the “major contributor” of the DNA found on those items, which had a mix that also contained DNA from an unknown female. State testimony showed that there is a 1 and 333 billion chance that the DNA found on the mask came from someone other than Goodwin — odds that far exceed the 8 billion people on earth.

A North Carolina State Police trooper testified via Zoom that he stopped a black Saturn Vue driven by Goodwin for a traffic violation on Sept. 10, 2020 — some five days after the murder — as it was traveling west on an interstate highway in that state. Goodwin’s girlfriend was his front-seat passenger and an unidentified woman was in a rear seat.

The trooper testified that, in addition to issuing Goodwin a citation, he confiscated the license plate on the Saturn because the numbers and letters on the accompanying sticker matched what should have been on a Jeep Patriot. He allowed Goodwin to go free after citing him.

Federal marshals captured Goodwin in Louisiana in October, after MSP investigators charged him with first-degree murder and other felonies in district court, and he was extradited back to Cecil County. In January, two months later, a Cecil County grand jury handed up the two-count murder indictment against Goodwin.

Sentman attacked the defense’s stance that no one saw Goodwin behind the wheel of that gold Jeep Patriot when it was used to run over Jackson.

The prosecutor emphasized that it is not necessary to have an eyewitness or eyewitnesses to secure a conviction in a murder case, if there is strong physical and circumstantial evidence, and he noted that not every fatal shooting or stabbing is witnessed.

“Think of the car as the murder weapon because that is exactly what it was,” Sentman told the judge.

Sentman then contended that evidence and testimony linking Goodwin to the Jeep Patriot and, in addition, showing that he had threatened to kill Jackson after losing a fight with him could be viewed as “the smoking gun.”

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