Man Gets 50 Years for Killing Dealer

by Yevgeniy Sverdlik

A Benicia man convicted earlier this year of slaying his former associate in a marijuana growing and dealing operation in Walnut Creek in 2007 was sentenced to 50 years to life in a state prison in a Contra Costa County courtroom in Martinez on Friday.

In March, a jury found Benicia’s Jonathan Marvin, 35, guilty of gunning down 30-year-old Eric Martin in a parking lot of a gym in downtown Walnut Creek. Deputy District Attorney Harold Jewett argued that the victim had come to the area to meet a buyer of a large amount of marijuana – a deal Marvin told him he had set up. Instead, Jewett claimed over the course of the trial, Marvin’s plan was to rob the victim of his marijuana and to kill him in order to extinguish thousands of dollars he owed him.

Marvin had set up a “cold-blooded and deliberate ambush” of the victim, Jewett said during the sentencing hearing.

“The crime the defendant committed … truly cuts to the fabric of the society itself,” the prosecutor said on Friday, explaining that the damage reached beyond both the defendant’s and the victim’s family. “It harms us all in a profound way.”

Marvin’s Public Defender Robin Lipetzky argued that although her client saw Martin get shot he was not the one who shot him. The defendant was concealing the true killer’s identify for fear of retribution against him and his family, she said.

Judge Charles Burch issued two consecutive sentences to Marvin – one for murder and the other for murder with the use of a firearm – each sentence lasting 25 years to live in prison. It was very likely that the defendant would also owe restitution to the victim’s family, Burch said. The amount of restitution, however, was not determined on Friday.

Marvin can appeal the decision within 60 days following the sentencing.

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