The story behind the story

Often we hear stories of murder and abuse, and that seems to be that. There is no excuse for murder. But sometimes, the information that comes out after a murder will at least give some insight into what led up to the murder.

On Mar. 19, Benjamin Martin reported his mother Nancy Martin missing. An investigation ensued in which law enforcement found that on Mar. 10, Nancy Martin was traveling for her business. While she was in the area she stopped by the home she owned which was occupied by her son Benjamin. Her son was unemployed, and he had attention deficit disorder and is dyslexic. According to one article, "She had way too many expectations, and Ben seemed to get the worst of it,"said Vivian Covard. (Nancy's sister).

Police found bloodstains in the home where her son lived. On Mar. 31, Benjamin Martin turned himself in the police and led them to his mother's body which was found 10 miles away, hidden under some bushes.

According to media reports, Nancy had arrived at the home on Mar. 10, and an argument had ensued over the messiness of the home. Allegedly, Benjamin had then struck Nancy in the neck and strangled her. He then drove her body to the area in which she was later found. Police have surveillance video of him in the area.

Nancy had recently taken a job with a university and they have given this statement. "She had an awful lot of people skills," he continued. "I can't imagine anybody who interacted with her professionally didn't think of her as a nice person."

Now Benjamin's two younger brothers and Nancy's sister are speaking out.  According to them, their mother had been abusive toward them and was especially severe with Benjamin, who was the oldest and had learning disabilities. "She had way too many expectations, and Ben seemed to get the worst of it,"

According to them, their father left the home when Benjamin was 5 years old. And that when the youngest was born, Benjamin was given too much responsibility. They allege that when  Benjamin was 16, his mother made Benjamin tie his younger brother up to a chair with electrical cord.

They also allege that their mother was an alcoholic, and that on Mar. 10, when she showed up at the home she was drunk. They also allege that during the argument, Nancy had mimicked Benjamin's speech impediment as they quarrelled.

 http://www.southernillinoisan.com/articles/2006/03/31/top/10006104.txt

http://www.southernillinoisan.com/articles/2006/04/02/top/10006140.txt

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/metroeast/story/DD98C0EF8A8A8F528625715800173F5A?OpenDocument

Hmmm, the two descriptions of the victim certainly seem to contradict each other. Or do they?

Many people go to work, they know their performance will be judged, and they know that their behavior will also be judged as a part of their job. She had just begun the job in Sept. and so would likely have been under some pressure to show her skills, and the best side of her.

At home, around family, people often relax. This is where they often express their frustration from the job, from daily living as well as frustrations about any family problems. And as a parent, we all have expectations of our children. Sometimes they live up to them, and sometimes they can't and sometimes they just won't.

The family alleges that Nancy was an alcoholic, and that she was drunk when she arrived at the home. That is something that may have been determined at the time of the autopsy. But that information probably won't come out until the trial.

But many times in domestic violence situations, alcohol and drugs will rear their ugly heads. Both will distort a person's perceptions and will loosen inhibitions. Both will often distort a person's personality- a nice person will sometimes display a different side to their personality when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I should note that there has not been a mention of drug usage here on the part of the victim or the suspect.  

There is no excuse for murder. But sometimes the story behind the story gives a little insight into the question of why the events unfolded as they did.

Is this a story of a family struggling to mitigate the punishment a family member will receive? Or is this the realistic story of events that led up to the murder? Likely that will come out in trial. But I believe we are seeing hints as to the defense strategy.

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