High bail set for man charged with shooting woman leaving church in Codman Square

A Dorchester man charged with firing a bullet that grazed a 52-year-old woman's head as she was leaving church in Codman Square was actually aiming at two men who were arguing nearby, a prosecutor said today.

Dorchester Municipal Court Judge Serge Georges set bail at $150,000 today at the arraignment for James Martin, 22, of Dorchester, who faces a variety of charges for the Friday incident, including assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and being a three-time armed career criminal, which could mean longer sentences on the other charges should he be convicted.

However, even should Martin make the bail, he won't be going anywhere because Georges revoked his bail on an unrelated open case in Lynn.

Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Marc Tohme said the woman had just left a service at the Freedom in Christ Ministry on Washington Street and had just gotten into her son's car when Martin opened fire from down the street, shooting at least six times at two men who were arguing near the son's car.

One of the bullets pierced the car's front windshield and grazed the top of the woman's head - as her 5-year-old grandson sat in the back seat.

Martin and the two men he was aiming at both ran away, Tohme said. Tohme said the gunfire was captured on video from several locations in Codman Square and that officers were able to identify Martin from past dealings with him in both Codman Square and Fields Corner - he has seven convictions on his record.

Yesterday afternoon, Tohme continued, an officer who knew him spotted him in the area of Adams and Gibson Street. "He immediately took off running," but police were able to capture him outside his home at 336 Adams St., the prosecutor said.

Tohme had asked for bail of $500,000, saying the potential 20-year prison sentence would encourage Martin to flee and because he has shown an "escalated pattern" of both defying court orders and violence.

Martin's attorney, Makis Antzoulatos, however, asked for bail of no more than $2,500. He said the only identification of Martin was by two police officers who watched videos. Especially in this day and age, to suggest that two people "watching a video, saying 'that's the guy,' raises some real issues," he said.

The prosecution presented no evidence that any civilian witnesses to the shooting had come forward and couldn't even produce a copy of any of the videos from him to look, he said. There's also no gun or other evidence tying him to the shooting, he said. He denied that Martin "immediately" fled the police officer yesterday. He said Martin actually talked to him for a minute before trying to run away, something he said might have been due to Martin getting spooked when he realized the officer was talking to him about a shooting that had received wide media and neighborhood attention. And, he asked, if the cops knew who he was, why didn't they go pick him up immediately, rather than waiting until some cop just happened to spot him?

Antzoulatos said the purpose of bail is to ensure a person returns to court and said that Martin poses no flight risk.He grew up in Dorchester, and is living with his bed-ridden grandmother and incapacitated grandfather, for whom he cares. He works for two youth-oriented organizations that work against violence: Youth Options Unlimited in Roxbury and the Dorchester Youth Collaborative.

"He's a young man who has no reason to flee" and even if he did, no place to go, he said.

If the DA wants to hold Martin as a danger to the community, he should ask for a separate "dangerousness" hearing, not cudgel him with high bail, he continued.

He said Martin had not missed a single court case since 2013 and that even in 2011 and 2012, "he made almost all his court [appearances]."

Antzoulatos also disputed whether Martin should be charged as a third-time armed career criminal, because two of the cases in question were "simple A&Bs," not involving weapons.

Georges agreed with a request from Tohme to bar Antzoulatos from telling Martin the identities of the victim, her son or any civilian witnesses that might come forward. He agreed with a request from Antzoulatos that prosecutors hand over copies of the surveillance tape to him no later than Martin's next court appearance on June 21.

As Georges read his rulings, Martin, clad in a gray hoodie, angrily banged on the glass windows that surround the prisoner dock. Some of his supporters in the court room put their hands out in a stop motion and urged him to "chill."

Villages: 

Topics: