AMHERST — Nearly a year after shooting and severely injuring a Madison Heights man in his own living room, 18-year-old Jared Matthew Martin was sentenced to 23 years in prison by an Amherst County judge.
Martin, of Amherst, was found guilty Oct. 3 of aggravated malicious wounding and use of a firearm in commission of a felony in Amherst Circuit Court. At his sentencing hearing Tuesday, he apologized to the man he shot, James Miles, who was seated across the room, moments after the victim testified of the physical and emotional trauma the incident has had on him.
Martin, who was 17 at the time of the shooting Dec. 6, 2018, was arrested by Amherst County Sheriff’s deputies shortly after fleeing Miles’ home on Longview Drive in Madison Heights.
Miles testified he was sleeping at his home shortly before the incident and went to use the bathroom when he noticed a light on in his underage daughter’s bedroom. After spotting Martin in the room, he testified, he told Martin to immediately leave the house.
“I asked him to leave three times,” Miles testified. “I even turned my back on him and he shot me.”
Miles said in court Martin used a racial slur when he wounded him in the abdomen. Miles testified he didn’t feel right and drove to Sheetz nearby but realized he couldn’t make it to the hospital. Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Amber Drumheller said he had someone call 911 there and was transported to Lynchburg General Hospital.
“I knew I was dying then,” Miles testified of the moments after he was wounded. “Thank God I didn’t.”
During the hearing he lifted his shirt up to show Judge Michael Garrett his scars. Jennifer Miles, the victim’s wife, testified he was in a coma for three days, had several surgeries and had to wear a colostomy bag. He was hospitalized from that day through the first week of January and the family spent much of the Christmas season last year in the hospital, she testified.
Miles testified he lost a portion of his intestine, suffers nerve damage and post traumatic stress, among other medical issues, and has trouble sleeping because of the shooting.
“It’s really messed me up,” Miles said in court. “I keep replaying it over and over in my head all the time ... thank God for my grandkids.”
A Horizon Behavioral Health employee who has counseled Martin the past few years testified the defendant has dealt with mental health issues. He had significant behavioral problems while at Amherst County High School, was expelled and later received his GED, according to her testimony.
Drumheller argued in favor of an active 45-year sentence.
Martin brought a shotgun into the home and told investigators he planned to go hunting the next day. He claimed Miles pointed a revolver at him and he shot when he heard a click.
Drumheller said Martin’s version of the incident changed multiple times and other witnesses on the scene refuted the claim of Miles having a weapon.
When an investigator later pressed Martin on the claim of Miles having a gun, Drumheller said he responded: “I don’t know. I wasn’t paying attention,” and made no mention of hearing a click.
Martin’s actions caused “irreparable” physical and psychological harm to Miles and the commonwealth strongly believes he should feel safe in his own home, Drumheller said. The 45-year sentence sends a message such gun violence won’t be tolerated in Amherst County, she said.
Jordan Davies, Martin’s attorney, said the defendant is remorseful and didn’t take a gun into the home that night with the intent of stealing anything or shooting anyone.
“He made a bad decision,” Davies said of how the incident unfolded. “To put him in prison for 45 years I don’t think helps anyone.”
Davies argued for punishment within the sentencing guidelines and said Martin has a bright future and a strong family support system.
“He didn’t deserve to be shot,” Davies said of Miles. “It was just an unfortunate event.”
Davies said it is fortunate the incident didn’t result in a murder case. Drumheller credited that to technology and the doctors who saved Miles’ life.
“Mr. Miles could have died that night,” Drumheller said. “[Martin] completely disregarded another man’s life that night.”
Before sentencing, Martin said he was on drugs when the shooting occurred.
“I wasn’t in my right state of mind,” Martin said. “I wish things wouldn’t have went the way they did. I pray they can forgive me.”
Garrett sentenced Martin to 40 years on the aggravated malicious wounding charge, which carries a maximum of life in prison, and suspended half of it. The other three years were a mandatory minimum on the use of a firearm in commission of a felony charge.
As part of the ruling, Martin will get credit for time served toward his sentence, must be on good behavior for 30 years upon release, the first five of which includes supervised probation, and is to have to no further contact with the Miles family.
Reach Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5551.