Wolf Point man pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter

Great Falls, Montana (AP) 6-08

A Wolf Point man has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the beating death of a neighbor during a drunken fight.

Jonathan Martell, 31, pleaded guilty June 5 before U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon, who scheduled his sentencing for Sept. 15.

Martell was charged in the Sept. 30, 2006 death of 37-year-old Kenneth Booth at a residential motel in Wolf Point, on the Fort Peck Reservation.

Prosecutors said tribal police responded to the report of a disturbance at the El Rancho Motel at 2:45 a.m., where they found Martell, his girlfriend, Booth and another woman. All appeared to be intoxicated.

Court records say officers took Martell to his mother’s house to “sleep it off.”

However, about an hour later, officers were called to the motel again.

The caller said “John Martell is out here and he is flipping out on his woman and some other guy. The guy is laying on the ground and he is covered in blood.”

Responding officers found Booth lying in the motel’s parking lot, his face was bloody and beaten and he was having difficulty breathing. He died later at the Wolf Point hospital.

Court records said officers found Martell and his girlfriend in their apartment, where they found Booth’s blood splattered throughout the room. The girlfriend had a welt on her face and a bloody lip. She told investigators that Martell fought with Booth and hit him because Booth made sexual advances at her, which made Martell jealous.

Tests showed blood on Martell’s hands belonged to Booth.

Witnesses told investigators they saw Martell drag Booth from his apartment.

An autopsy determined Booth died of blunt force injuries to his head and neck.