This is Martin’s story of his initial incarceration, conviction, and his courageous legal battle.
Timeline of Events
On April 11, 1988, a Bergen County Grand Jury returned a thirteen count indictment
against multiple defendants. In that indictment, the Grand Jury charged Martin
Baskerville with armed robbery, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest.
On May 7, 1988, Martin was released on bail in connection with the indictment and
on September 23, 1988, he pleaded guilty to simple assault and harassing
communication, and was sentenced to 21 days in the Bergen County Jail Annex.
While serving the 21 day sentence, Martin was served with an Order of Arrest for failure to appear for pretrial conference in connection with same indictment (S-524-88), which resulted in Martin’s bail being revoked, and he was remanded to the Bergen County Jail.
While still in custody at the Bergen County Jail, Martin was re-arrested and charged as a fugitive from justice in connection with the robbery/murder of a New York
drug dealer on April 4, 1989.
On July 14, 1989, a New York County Grand Jury charged Martin with Second Degree Murder and First Degree Robbery and Second Degree robbery. On August 15, 1989, Martin waived extradition and returned to the State of New York where he was formally charged and arraigned in connection with the indictment. On or about
November 1989, Martin met with assigned counsel Thomas H. O’Rourke, from the
law firm of O’Rourke and Degan for the first time. It was during this meeting that
Martin was provided with a copy of the indictment. After reviewing the documents, it was discovered that on the date which the alleged homicide was to have occurred (April 4, 1989), he was actually in the custody of New Jersey authorities.
I grew up with an interest in finding out what happened to Uncle Marty. My mom took us to see him when I was about 7 or 8 years old, and I always wanted to find out what his story was. I asked my mom and Aunt Nancy and no one could explain exactly what happened to him and how he was innocent as he claimed.
As most of you know, my family spent quite a few years in Israel and I returned to the U.S. in 2002. At this time, I reached out to my uncle again; I would send him letters and pictures for years. In 2015, I reached out to him again when I found out that he was supposed to be paroled but it was denied because he did not have anywhere to go. I did not believe that after all those years he didn’t have anyone that could take him in. I reached out to find out how I could help. I figured that I didn’t have any money to pay for expenses, but I could use my skills to bring attention to his case and possibly bring the family together to help him get the resources he needed. He was skeptical at first but, after a few letters and phone calls, Martin began to tell me his story. It is a lot of information and it took a lot of explaining and reading to be able to put everything together.
Martin Baskerville’s story starts when he was arrested in New Jersey for armed robbery and aggravated assault. Prior to his trial, Martin spent some time incarcerated for several years. He was offered a plea deal of five years but before he could accept this offer, he was shipped off to New York and charged with a homicide, which occurred on April 4, 1989. This is when the problems all started. He informed his attorney that he was incarcerated in the Bergen County Jail on the date of the murder. Martin and his legal council were unable to secure his jail records from Bergen County Jail and he was found guilty and convicted of murder. Martin was sentenced to sixteen years to life and he completed this sentence by serving 22 years before he was paroled to New Jersey.
Martin tried to obtain his jail records on several occasions but was unsuccessful. He was later returned to New Jersey in 1993 where he went on trial for the first indictment of armed robbery and aggravated assault. On August 25, 1993, Martin was sentenced to serve 22 years consecutive to the sentence he was serving in New York. Martin has petitioned and filed many appeals trying to prove his innocence. He has also filed a motion for jail credits so that he could get the courts to acknowledge the dates that he was incarcerated, which would show that he was in jail at the time of the murder and his sentencing was illegal.
He was awarded those credits on March 21, 2016. This was a major victory for Martin because the courts inadvertently admitted that he was in jail at the time of the murder by approving these jail credits. Martin is currently fighting for his freedom and looking for legal council to represent him in a civil lawsuit that would require New Jersey and New York to take responsibility for the wrongful convictions.