Mass Murder Suspect Becomes 28th Sacramento Jail Fatality Since 2021 – 3rd in Last Month

Photo Courtesy of WikiMedia

By Crescenzo Vellucci

The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief

SACRAMENTO, CA – Another incarcerated person has died in Sacramento County’s Main Jail—28 have been reported dead since January 2021, and three in the last 30 days, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office.

Smiley Martin, an accused gunman in the 2022 K Street mass shooting, died at the Sacramento County Main Jail early Saturday, according to his attorney.

Martin’s death while in custody follows two other deaths in a week about a month ago, including May 5, when deputies found a 45-year-old man and May 12, when a man, 55, died in custody during intake, sheriff’s officials said.

Before Martin’s Saturday death, 27 Main Jail inmates had been reported dead in Sacramento County Sheriff’s custody since January 2021, according to the Sacramento Bee.

“The sheriff’s office said deputies were conducting a cell check in the 5-East 300 Pod and saw the 29-year-old, who has since been identified as Martin, as unresponsive. Deputies, medical staff and later Sacramento Fire Department personnel tried lifesaving efforts but Martin died at the jail around 2 a.m.,” according to a SF Gate report.

“I was informed of Mr. Martin’s tragic passing early this morning. The public defender team representing him is deeply saddened by his unexpected death,” defense attorney Norman Dawson said in a statement, noting the death is “being investigated.

“It is most tragic that Mr. Martin passed away, fighting to defend his innocence in the preliminary hearing process,” Dawson said, according to a KCRA story, adding, “Mr. Martin’s defense team sends our deepest condolences to his family, and we are here to support the family going forward.”

The trial for the downtown shooting, which killed six people and injured 12, was scheduled for late 2024. Martin was facing murder and weapons charges. Martin’s brother Dandrae is also charged in connection with the shootings.

Martin, wounded in the shootout as K Street nightspots were emptying early in the morning of April 3, 2022, was charged along with younger brother Dandrae Martin and Mtula Payton for the murders of three women killed in the gunfight, reported The Bee.

Yamile Martinez-Andrade, 21; Johntaya Alexander, 21; and Melinda Davis, 57, were innocent bystanders caught in the gunfight between two rival groups. Also killed was Joshua Hoye-Lucchesi, 32; DeVazia Turner, 29; and Sergio Harris, 38.

Law enforcement arrested Mtula Payton, and Dandrae Martin, then 26, for alleged assault with a deadly weapon and being a convict carrying a loaded gun. He suffered minor wounds. Dandrae Martin posted a live video of himself with a handgun hours before the shooting, a law enforcement official said, according to an Associated Press story

AP reported, “More than 100 shots were fired in rapid-fire succession in a downtown entertainment area near the state Capitol building during the shooting around 2 a.m.,” in 2022. Two groups of men connected to gangs began shooting as bars and clubs emptied out at closing time, sending hundreds of people desperately trying to reach safety. At least five gunmen were involved, police said.”

Sacramento defense attorney Linda Parisi, representing Martin’s brother, told The Bee she was shocked at Smiley Martin’s death, noting the brother’s family is devastated. “I can’t imagine how difficult it is for his family,” Parisi said. “It’s very sad … to be confined in jail while you’re fighting to establish your innocence.”

According to The Bee, Parisi said “attorneys are in the middle of the preliminary hearing, still wrangling through evidence which she said appeared to show both Martin brothers were acting in self-defense. When the preliminary hearing resumes, she said she plans to continue to show her client, and Smiley Martin, were fighting for their lives when gunfire erupted.”

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