A Calhoun Falls man was sentenced Wednesday on charges connected with the death of Jessica Ekholm.
Robert Kenneth Martin pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 30 years in prison suspended to 15 years and 5 years probation, according to an email from the 8th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
“Martin will do 15 years of no-parole prison time on the front end and then have another 15 years hanging over his head when he gets out,” the email said.
Martin was arrested in August 2019 after a fight between Martin and a woman — in which Ekholm intervened by attacking Martin with a pocket knife — led to the Calhoun Falls man killing Ekholm “by cutting her neck with a knife,” warrants said.
He was charged with murder, second-degree domestic violence and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. After posting a $100,000 bond, Martin was released on house arrest with an electronic monitor. While on bond, Martin removed his ankle bracelet and was on the lam until authorities apprehended him in North Carolina.
Martin’s public defenders had intended to file a “Stand your Ground” motion because Martin had been cut with a knife during the altercation before killing Ekholm with a knife. Prosecutors did not think Ekholm was armed with the knife at the time of her death and were prepared to argue against the motion, the email said.
Martin’s defense counsel approached the solicitors about resolving the case by having Martin plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter. After consulting with Ekholm’s family members and the State Law Enforcement Division investigator, Martin was allowed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
“We are glad that they have some closure tonight, and can put the courtroom part of this horrible situation behind them,” the email said.