A man convicted of murder after firing shots at a house from the street and killing a man inside has been given a reduced sentence and soon will be released.
The resentencing is due to recent rulings from the Washington Supreme Court that say judges should take a juvenile defendant’s age into consideration during sentencing.
In mid-June, Derrick G. Martin-Armstead was resentenced to 12 years for the 2007 murder of 30-year-old Daniel Burgess. Martin-Armstead was originally convicted of second-degree murder in 2012, and sentenced to 15 years, with 36 months of community custody. Martin-Armstead, now 31, was 16 years old at the time of the murder but was tried as an adult.
In 2017, the state Supreme Court ruled that mandatory minimum sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional. In their decision, the court also upheld that “sentencing courts must have complete discretion to consider mitigating circumstances associated with the youth of any juvenile defendant, even in the adult criminal justice system.”
In 2020, it was decided that ruling could be applied retroactively in two companion cases. Jeremy Schmidt, Martin-Armstead’s public defender, said those decisions were the basis for Martin-Armstead qualifying for resentencing.
Martin-Armstead’s murder conviction followed a prior felony conviction stemming from a 2007 robbery in which he shot a man in the buttocks with a .22 revolver while robbing him of marijuana and a PlayStation. He was convicted of second-degree assault in 2008, and served three years.
An informant told detectives that Martin-Armstead talked about his involvement with Burgess’ death while in custody at the Spokane County Jail. The homicide occurred just a few weeks after the marijuana robbery.
The informant told detectives Martin-Armstead said his girlfriend stole marijuana from two men in 2007, one of whom threw a wrench through his window a week later. Martin-Armstead allegedly told the informant his girlfriend then drove him and his cousin to the men’s home on Dakota Avenue, where his cousin Pierre Davis “got out of the car and shot a .22 revolver at the residence several times,” according to court documents.
Burgess was in the living room at the time of the shooting and was shot in the chest . Martin-Armstead was charged in 2011. His girlfriend at the time, Jaleesa Anderson, and her brother Marc Anderson both pleaded guilty to lesser charges related to the shooting. Davis was never charged in the shooting.
Court documents state Martin-Armstead cooperated with detectives during the investigation into Burgess’ death, maintaining his cousin was the trigger man the entire time.
Martin-Armstead is expected to be released within the next 60 days and will be under community custody for 18 months.
Schmidt said the resentencing is a correction of a past error.
He noted how Martin-Armstead has completed several rehabilitation programs while incarcerated, and started a support group for fellow inmates called the Men Facilitating Change Program.
“Mr. Martin-Armstead worked very hard to get to this position,” Schmidt said.
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