Breckenridge Texan

September 20
13:24 2017

The murder trial of Elton Carroll “E.C.” Blair began Wednesday morning, Sept. 20, with both the prosecution and the defense attorneys agreeing on at least two things – that Blair was having an affair with 22-year-old Leah Martin and that he did not actually kill her in May 2015. Where the stories begin to differ is on the question of whether or not Blair was involved in the planning of and somehow compensated two other men for the murder of Martin.

District Attorney Dee Peavy alleges that Blair’s relationship with Martin, who was the on-and-off girlfriend of Blair’s son, was causing him too much personal trouble and costing him money. So, Peavy said, Blair colluded with his employee and friend, Ross Hellams, to get rid of Martin. Hellams brought in Billy Minkley Jr. to help with the plan, she said.

Hellams and Minkley were both subsequently arrested and charged with the same murder. Hellams has been in the Young County jail since his arrest in 2015, and Minkley was transferred to the Tarrant County Jail in 2016, in connection with another murder case.

Peavy said that Minkley has confessed to striking Martin in the head twice and that Hellams then put a plastic bag over her head, as they watched her take her last breath.

She mentioned several links from Blair to his two co-defendants, indicating that he compensated them with money, jobs or cars, giving them incentive to commit the murder at his request.

When Blair’s defense attorney, David Wimberley of Breckenridge, presented his opening statement, he admitted that Blair was having an affair with Martin. But, he painted a picture of a successful businessman who is too smart to have been involved in the murder and coverup.

Wimberley alleges that Hellams and Minkley were high on drugs when they killed Martin and then blamed Blair for planning it. He said that the circumstantial evidence that the prosecution has does not prove Blair’s guilt.

Shortly before Wednesday’s lunch break, Leah Martin’s father, Billy Martin, testified for the state. District Judge Stephen Bristow called for a lunch break before Wimberley could begin his cross-examination of Billy Martin.

Story by Carla McKeown

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