Saturday September 1, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Nearly four months after the book was closed in the Jahda Martin slaying, a killing the reasons for which have never been explained, court documents allege that the incident was gang-related and that the attackers mistakenly believed Martin was a police informant.

The Eagle uncovered documents unrelated to the Martin case at the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office, stating that the March 2010 stabbing and beating of Mar tin outside a city nightclub was committed by "members of the Bloods gang" and was motivated by the "mistaken" belief that Martin had been working with police.

"[T]he fatal beating and stabbing inflicted upon him was punishment for cooperating with the police," the court document alleges.

The document goes on to say "the Bloods street gang enforced a code of silence that restricted the effective use of informants who feared that disclosure of their cooperation would result in fatal consequences."

According to police and prosecutors, Martin was leaving the former Club Groove on Wendell Avenue Extension in Pittsfield just after 1:30 a.m. on March 6, 2010, when he was attacked in a nearby Burger King parking lot by several people, including Terrance W. Brown, 28, of Springfield, John C. "Jay" Spratling, 28, of Pittsfield, 30-year-old Trevor L. "Jamaican Jay" Pryce, of North Adams and Allen McGraw, 32, of Kingston, N.Y. All four men were initially charged with murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and witness intimidation.

Brown stabbed Martin, 26, once in the leg, a wound that would prove fatal after Martin was rushed to Berkshire Med ical Center.

While the alleged gang connection was brought up in grand jury proceedings, ac cording to Eagle archives, there had never been discussions in court on the alleged drug informant connection to the killing.

The Appeals Court brief that references the Martin slaying was written for an unrelated drug case and deals with whether a wiretap was warranted in a Berkshire Drug Task Force investigation allegedly involving members of the Bloods.

The document was filed with the Appeals Court on May 29, a little more than a week after Pryce and McGraw had their cases disposed of.

On May 21 in Berkshire Superior Court, Pryce pleaded guilty to a single count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to 21Ž2 years in the county jail. He served the bulk of his sentence while awaiting the outcome of the case and has been released from the jail. It was unclear whether he was incarcerated elsewhere. At the time of his plea, he had been facing a parole violation. Pryce is not listed as being a state prisoner.

That same day, the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office filed paperwork dismissing the charges against McGraw, blaming the deportation of one witness and a lack of cooperation from others. McGraw is currently on parole until June 2016 in New York on a drug conviction.

Spratling pleaded guilty April 25 to a single count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to at least five years and no more than six years in state prison.

Brown pleaded guilty March 22 to a single count of manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 to 12 years in state prison.

A fifth defendant, 32-year-old Casey Ivery, was charged as an accessory for driving Brown to Springfield and assisting in cleaning the car that Brown used to leave the crime scene. She pleaded guilty April 25 as an accessory to manslaughter and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and was sentenced to 18 months in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction.

Martin was a a standout basketball player at Lee High School. He grew up in the Bronx, N.Y., and spent time at Berkshire Farm, a child welfare agency with a residential program in Canaan, N.Y., before being fostered by a local family.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6249
On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx