Breckenridge Texan

September 29
18:39 2017

District Judge Stephen Bristow declined to revoke the bond of murder defendant Elton Carroll “E.C.” Blair at the end of Friday afternoon’s proceedings, despite a request from the prosecution.

Special prosecutor David Alex requested the revocation after witness Mario Espinoza’s testimony didn’t match the statement he gave to the police two years ago during the investigation into the disappearance and death of Leah Martin in May 2015. At that time, Espinoza was the manager of the Auto Zone store in Graham, and Blair’s business, E.C.’s Auto Repair, had a commercial account with the store.

During Alex’s line of questioning about the inconsistencies, he asked the witness when he had last spoken with Blair. Espinoza said he had talked to Blair about two weeks ago. Later, during cross examination by defense attorney David Wimberley, Espinoza said it was a chance encounter at an auto repair shop in Graham. Neither attorney asked him the nature of that conversation.

Espinoza characterized his relationship with Martin, who worked at the auto repair shop, as “friends with benefits,” confirming to the prosecution that it was a sexual relationship. During cross examination, he said he and Martin had sex twice in 2013 or 2014.

The witness’ relationship with Martin caused him some problems at work because Blair wanted Espinoza to break it off with Martin. Blair’s son is the father of Martin’s daughter, and later Martin and Blair had an affair.

During his testimony Friday afternoon, Espinoza said that he left his job in Graham because he got a promotion and was transferred to another store. He also said that at one time, Blair asked him to call him on his cell phone instead of on the office phone because the messages Espinoza was leaving for Blair weren’t getting to him.

However, Alex read from the transcribed police testimony that Espinoza gave in 2015, in which he said that he transferred to the other store because of the problems caused by his relationship with Martin. Additionally, he said that Blair told him not to call the office phone because Blair didn’t want Espinoza talking to Martin.

Alex connected Espinoza’s changed stories with his meeting wth Blair and requested the judge to revoke Blair’s bond on charge that he had tampered with a witness. Bristow said he had not heard enough from Espinoza to revoke the bond nor to impeach the witness. However, Bristow did amend Blair’s bond conditions to include specifications that he not have any contact with any of the witnesses in the trial, with the exception of his wife and children.

Friday afternoon’s court session included the testimony of another witness, and the Breckenridge Texan will have an additional article online this weekend.

Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

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