MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Terrance Martin, 33, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for killing his girlfriend, LaToya Jones, in September 2019. He was found guilty in November 2022.
Prosecutors argued Martin killed Jones because she wanted to break up with him. Jones called 911 because Martin threatened to shoot her. Prosecutor Louis Walker said Jones said to Martin, “Are you really going to do this?” while she was on the phone with them.
According to prosecutors, after Martin shot Jones, he threw the phone with 911 out of a window, and he fled to his hometown of New Orleans.
The family tells WKRG News 5 this took place in front of her then 15-year-old son who is now 18.
It was an emotional sentencing hearing as Jones’ family came to court wearing purple shirts with LaToya Jones’ face on the front reading, “Justice for Toya.”
Her sister, Tina Paige Jnmarie, and lifelong friend, Ursula Salter, gave their victim impact statements during the sentencing with tears in their eyes.
Jnmarie asked the court to keep who her sister was as a person in mind while delivering the sentence.
“Not only was she so much to us, she meant so much to others,” she said in the courtroom. She turns to Martin and looks him in the eye, and says, “I don’t think you realized what you did to us.”
“We forgive you, but we will never forget what you did,” she continued. “Once you take a life, you can never get that back.”
Salter said the last time she saw her childhood friend was when she picked her up from him in New Orleans.
“I watched you hug her, kiss her, and hug her son,” said Salter. “I can’t believe you did that.”
When Martin was asked by the judge if he wanted to speak to the family members, he declined to comment.
Outside the courtroom, family members gathered wearing their shirts showing solidarity with their lost loved one. Jnmarie says she feels as if justice has been served, but it is still hard still cope with the pain.
“I don’t really even know what to say because I mean, I know it feels supposed to feel like justice, but I just really don’t feel, i’m still hurt,” said Jnmarie. “And just like I said, we forgive him because God want us to forgive him. You know, we got to learn to forgive. Because that’s what this whole world need while these people are dying and we need to forgive, so we forgive him.”
Salter said she picked up Jones to help her get away from Martin. She says Martin never showed any signs of possible abuse towards her. It was a complete shock to her.
“She was a just a loving person full of life,” said Salter. “She won’t even get to walk her son down, see her grandkids being born. It’s just so much it was just a senseless death over nothing because he didn’t want to walk away. And at the end of the day, you still fled, but justice was really served. Justice is really served. And one thing I can push forward like it’s gonna take a long time for all of us to heal but we each other and we keep each other uplifted. I know we’re gonna make it past this.”
Martin was given the maximum sentence that the court could impose. Prosecutor Louis Walker said Martin had three other felony convictions in New Orleans. According to court documents, Martin was convicted of Attempted Illegal Use of Weapons, Aggravated Flight from an Officer, and Illegal Possession of Stolen Firearms, so he could not legally own a firearm.
According to Judge Phillips, one of Martin’s convictions in Louisiana are not felonies in Alabama, so Judge Phillips sentenced him to life with the possibility of parole under the Habitual Felony Offender Act.
“For [the] Habitual Offender to apply in Alabama, the conduct out of state has to be a felony in Alabama, and only two of those convictions qualified for felony status in Alabama,” said District Attorney Keith Blackwood. “And so life was the maximum punishment that could be imposed in his case.”
The family stood in solidarity with their purple shirts with LaToya’s face on them, choosing the color purple to help raise awareness on domestic violence hoping this would never happen to another family.
“I will never forget what he did to my sister,” said Jnmarie. “We forgive him because we want God to forgive us, and He wants us to forgive. And God said vengeance is his, so God is going to have his vengeance. He will have to live with this for the rest of his life.”
“It’s, you know, one of the worst case scenarios, you know, the case involving just horrific domestic violence,” said Blackwood. “The victim was on the phone, you know, there were there was a child present. And, you know, she was just executed right in front of her child.”
According to District Attorney Keith Blackwood, Martin could possibly get out on parole after serving 15 years.