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An Oakland man was sentenced today to six consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing a 1-year-old boy in 2009 and then murdering the boy’s mother because she was a witness. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Vernon Nakahara said Curtis Martin III, 41, “will die in state prison and not be released in the future.” On July 19, during jury selection for his trial, Martin pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder for killing 17-month-old Jashon Williams and one count of first-degree murder for killing the boy’s mother, 23-year-old Zoelina Toney, in the fall of 2009.
The criminal complaint said Jashon was killed sometime between Oct. 25, 2009, and Nov. 8, 2009, and prosecutor Tim Wellman said the killing most likely occurred on Oct. 31 or Nov. 1. Authorities said that after Martin killed Jashon, he dumped the boy into the San Francisco Bay. His decomposed body was found on Nov. 15, 2009, in the Berkeley Marina. Martin killed Zoelina Toney, on Nov. 13, 2009, by shooting and bludgeoning her. Toney’s body was found in Aquatic Park, along the shoreline east of Interstate Highway 80 in Berkeley, at about 4 a.m. that day. In addition, Martin pleaded guilty to three special-circumstance murder allegations: murdering Toney because she was a witness to the murder of her son, lying in wait, and committing multiple murders.
Martin also admitted to having three prior felony convictions: a 1994 voluntary manslaughter conviction for the death of the 3-year-old son of his girlfriend at the time, a 1992 conviction for possession of an assault weapon and a 1988 conviction for first-degree robbery. In the earlier case, he was charged with murder for the Feb. 11, 1994, death of 3-year-old Devin Brewer, who was the son of his girlfriend. The probable cause statement said the boy died of blunt force trauma to the head, and his mother reported that he had suffered several burns and blunt force injuries in the weeks prior to his death.
However, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office agreed to a plea deal that called for Martin to plead no contest to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and be sentenced to 11 years in state prison. Martin was paroled from state prison on Sept. 7, 2000, after serving only about six years. Because of Martin’s previous convictions, Judge Nakahara tripled the two life terms he faced for murdering Jashon and Toney, giving him a total of six life terms plus another 55 years to life.
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