Watching my brother die, over and over again.

This has been an extremely difficult week as my family and I sit in Third Judicial District Court in Las Cruces, New Mexico watching and listening to the testimony and evidence presented against the man accused of killing my little brother. This is the first of several weeks to come and I doubt it will get easier.

As you may already know, my brother Deputy Jeremy Martin (#SFSO40) with the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office, was shot in the back after an argument with a fellow deputy (allegedly) after a night on the town.

Adding to the complexity of this deep pain is my sincere love of my country and my love of justice. I believe with all my being in the civil liberties this great country affords its citizens. Great men and women have fought and sacrificed to protect and ensure these liberties. We are so privileged.

Civil liberty and justice. You really can’t have one without the other.

I appreciate that a man is innocent until proven guilty and wholeheartedly agree with the legal burden being on the state to prove guilt. I respect the need for a sterile courtroom in the view of the jury, comprised of our peers. I deeply respect an impartial judge ensuring all testimony is given firsthand and a thorough record created and maintained.

Although a bit more difficult, I also respect the legal defense and the men and women who choose to believe (or at least represent anyway) the accused party and fight for their rights.

I most certainly don’t always agree with the court and I desperately want to stand up and speak out about the insanity of what I hear presented as some version of “truth”.

But I don’t. I can’t. I am obviously biased and I did not witness firsthand the events of that fateful night.

The 29 years I knew my brother, the text messages and Snapchat exchanges of that evening, countless conversations and time together we shared and the totality of my experiences of and with him over our lifetime together does not count. They are hearsay at best and therefore not admissible. And frankly, at least in the eyes of the court, my opinion on the matter before it does not matter. And unfortunately (and with so much regret), I was not there.

So I sit. Minding my manners and behaving, trying desperately not to be disruptive to the court by keeping my pain in check. My tears are well hidden behind my box of tissue. And I allow my mom to squeeze what little feeling I have left out of my hand.

I listen. As witnesses are reduced to yes and no answers often without being allowed to elaborate as attorneys do their best to ask non-leading questions in drawing out the facts of the story. Several telling me later they wished they could have said more.

And I watch. As pictures of my brother’s bullet-riddled body are shown. And photos of the bloody scene displayed and explained. Audio and video including the final moments of his life and the heroic efforts of the first responders in the futile attempt to save his life.

Witness after witness describing as best they can what they saw and heard. Most if not all having never been in such a traumatic and stressful situation. Their nerves and emotions shot. Their memory and comprehension not able to keep up. A fact the defense will continue to draw to the attention of the jury. With every little discrepancy picked apart.

So many lives brought together at one time as one very young life was coming to an end. It is obvious they too are hurting. Many cry.

The result is often a choppy narrative and confusion (at least initially) as I and the jury do our best to piece together what actually happened.

Painfully, the man accused sits there, just a few feet away. No discernable emotion or expression in my opinion. Maybe he is following instruction. Maybe he cares, or maybe he doesn’t. I doubt he will testify and tell the truth. Therefore, we may never know.

And while I desperately want to defend my brother’s honor, I will not interact with the defendant and I will trust the system. The Martin men are men of integrity, courage, and public service. We fight justly.

That is undoubtedly the honor my brother would want defended.

It is painfully obvious to me my kid brother was not afforded the same sterile and impartial environment when he fought for his life. He did not have a chance once the gunfire started. And that hurts. He deserved better.

At the end of the trial, it is up to a group of strangers to decide. To decide which story they believe. And in what is just in their minds.

I pray I can live with what they decide. I know I will have too.

That is after all, why we are here.

Notice: This is my story and therefore my opinion, and I do not presume to speak on behalf of my extended family until we agree to release a public statement at a later date. Moreover, it was my intent to wait to speak publically until the court had an impartial jury seated and appropriately admonished to stay off the news and social media sites. Early on in this process, the investigators and prosecutors asked my family to temper what we said publically. And I am committed to honoring their request and to not speak of anything that is said in private or is otherwise privileged.

This post first published at medium/@mrjamesmartin

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