Local News

NC teen who killed grandfather with hatchet will be eligible for parole

Posted February 27, 2018 7:42 a.m. EST
Updated February 27, 2018 10:59 p.m. EST

— A Cumberland County teen who killed his grandfather with a hatchet two years ago could one day be freed from prison.

Raistlin Martin, 17, pleaded guilty last week to first-degree murder in the Aug. 8, 2016, death of 63-year-old Joseph Emmett Naulty. Superior Court Judge James Ammons sentenced him Tuesday to life in prison with the possibility for parole after 25 years.

Ammons had the option of allowing the opportunity for parole instead of handling down the mandatory life without parole sentence for first-degree murder because Martin was a juvenile when the crime happened. Prosecutors chose to try him in adult court, however.

Naulty was hit 31 times with a hatchet, including 15 wounds to his head, according to authorities. His son, Joseph Ezekiel Naulty, found him covered in blood in bed after hearing him cry out. Martin, who also was covered in blood, and a bloody hatchet were near the bed.

Martin, who was shackled in court Tuesday, wept as prosecutors described in grisly detail the wounds the grandfather suffered in the attack

The elder Naulty was a bully to his family, his son told Ammons during the sentencing hearing.

He had moved into Joseph Ezekiel Naulty's home on Elgin Drive after his wife died, and the younger Naulty blamed him for Martin's April 2016 suicide attempt.

Martin, who was named for Raistlin Majere, an anti-hero character in the "Dungeons & Dragons" saga, told people of his plans to kill his grandfather over a cellphone app.

Authorities were able to recover 107 pages of text messages that had been deleted from Martin's iPhone in which he called his grandfather "kinda inconvenient" and stating that he wanted him dead.

Cumberland County Assistant District Attorney Robby Hicks said the messages showed Martin initially planned to poison his grandfather before changing his plans to a hammer attack and, ultimately, a hatchet attack.

"He couldn’t get the pills to crush because they weren’t very soluble," Hicks said in summarizing the text messages. "So, he changed his mind, but he was sure he wanted his grandfather dead, and he had never been so sure of anything in his life."

Public defender Bernard Condlin argued that Martin's parents had neglected him for years. The teen basically raised himself, reading texts such as "Mein Kampf" and stories of serial killers as part of his homeschooling while his father was at work.

Condlin also outlined various mitigating factors, such as Martin's immaturity, his mental instability and peer pressure. The peer pressure came not only from bullies the teen routinely faced but also from his own family, the defense attorney said, noting that Joseph Ezekiel Naulty put the idea of killing his grandfather in Martin's head after his suicide attempt.

"So now, we just start saying stuff like, 'You need to go on and kill your granddad because you’re only going to go to jail until you’re 19. Oh, but by the way, I’m just kidding," Condlin told Ammons.