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Woman accused of threats is freed until trial
Fresnan told about a dream of killing her former bosses.
By Pablo Lopez and Matt Leedy
The Fresno Bee

(Published Sunday, January 18, 2004, 5:36 AM)

Denise Martin walked into a Fresno courtroom Friday in a green jail jumpsuit with her hands and ankles shackled.

After a two-hour hearing, Judge Franklin P. Jones told Martin she would be freed from the Fresno County Jail while awaiting her trial and did not have to post bail. She faces five felony counts of making criminal threats.

Martin, 53, who has no criminal record, has been in jail without bail since December after telling a former co-worker that she dreamed of killing the bosses who fired her.

She contends that she is being unfairly prosecuted for uncovering misconduct at Lockheed Martin IMS and because one of her alleged targets is the husband of a Fresno judge.

The prosecution, however, charges that Martin owned a revolver and was capable of carrying out the threats.

To be freed from jail, Martin promised to remain in California and appear at all future court hearings. The judge also told her not to possess any firearms or deadly weapons.

Martin showed little emotion, other than saying, "I'll be there," referring to a Feb. 17 court date in which a judge will determine whether there is a courtroom available for her trial.

If Martin is convicted of all the charges, she could be sentenced to five years, eight months in jail.

Martin said she had a nightmare after going to bed one day in May 2002. In it, she confronted former bosses and shot them in the head.

The next day, court records show, she called a former co-worker, Debbie McGowan, and told her about the dream. Martin had known McGowan since high school and believed her conversation was confidential, defense lawyer Margarita Martinez said.

McGowan, however, told her bosses the next day, and they called police. Martin was taken into custody on May 5, 2002.

One of Martin's alleged targets is Ken Wiseman, whose wife is Rebecca Wiseman, a judge with the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno. Because Rebecca Wiseman is involved in the case, three judges have removed themselves from the case.

At the time she made the alleged threats, court records show, Martin was taking the prescription antidepressant Paxil to cope with depression she said came after she lost her job. Doctors later changed her medication to Effexor to treat her depression, then to Zyprexa, which can be used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

While waiting for her trial, Martin had been free on her own recognizance. But in December, Martinez called into question Martin's ability to assist in her own defense, and Judge James

Quaschnick ordered Martin incarcerated without bail until doctors could examine her.

At Friday's hearing, prosecutor Jeff Hammerschmidt and Martinez agreed that Martin is competent to stand trial. Martin also told Jones: "Yes I am mentally competent."

Martinez noted that Martin had made 44 court appearances while she was free without bail, cares for her 80-year-old mother, and has caused no trouble.

"There's certainly been no evidence whatsoever that Ms. Martin would carry out these threats if released," said Martinez, who complained that Martin spent Christmas, New Year's and her 53rd birthday in custody.

Hammerschmidt agreed that Martin does not have a violent past but said: "She has made serious threats including putting bullets in people's heads. It appears that she'll show up if she is released. My concern is public safety."

Dr. Avak Albert Howsepian, a psychiatrist, however, testified that he interviewed Martin twice and believes Martin is bipolar but "she didn't seem to me to be a danger to the community."

Martin doesn't have a personality disorder or a substance-abuse problem and she has a "very, very low risk of violence," he said.

Martinez said that the truth will set her client free, but Martin already has paid a heavy price: "The worst that can happen to a person has happened to her."

The reporters can be reached at plopez@fresnobee.commailto:%20mleedy@fresnobee.com or 441-6330.

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