COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — A Colbert County judge has decided he will allow Brian Lansing Martin to visit the crime scenes connected to his capital murder charges.
In 2021, Martin was accused of killing a longtime friend while driving down Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals. Authorities say just a few miles down the road in Sheffield, Martin shot and killed Sheffield Police Sergeant Nick Risner, and injured another officer.
Huntsville-based defense attorney Mark McDaniel, who has no connection to Martin’s case, has tried criminal cases for more than 40 years. He shared some insight as to how valuable these visits can be for defense attorneys.
“You’re the lawyer, you’re going to be settling this in the courtroom,” he said “It’s good for the lawyer to have, in his or her mind, the exact layout, exactly what happened. The only person who can tell you that is the defendant, from the defendant’s point of view.”
McDaniel says crime scene visits should be a standard request made in every criminal case, no matter the number of locations involved or the complexity.
“Crime scenes can go a distance. Go to it. Spend the time. Recreate that as best you can. Recreate that crime scene,” he said.
In this case, Judge Mitchell Hays has granted a request to allow the defendant to visit the scenes alongside his attorneys. McDaniel says that’s not always the case, sometimes defense attorneys have to go back to the scenes by themselves.
“That’s when you go and shoot video of every inch of the scene and you go and sit down with your client to discuss what took place at every second of the scene.”
Not only do these visits help defense attorneys build their cases, McDaniel says the visits also assist them with questioning the prosecution’s witnesses.
“When you’re cross-examining somebody, a police officer that talks about the crime scene, you want to know as much about the crime scene as that officer,” he said. “If you haven’t been to the crime scene, you haven’t relived it, then you can’t adequately cross-examine someone.”
Judge Hays did not specify a date for Martin to revisit the crime scenes.