Killer seeks a new life after 19 years jail

Last updated 12:00 30/01/2013

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Convicted murderer Carl Martinson has told the Parole Board about his first few months of freedom after 19 years in jail. Jimmy Ellingham was at the hearing.

He's got the same problems many people do - where to live and where to work - but a very different background.

Carl Liam Martinson is only five months out of jail after serving a 19-year sentence for murder.

On May 21, 1993, he raped and killed Donnell Marie Wood, 19, outside her flat in Victoria Ave, Palmerston North.

Her naked body was found the next morning with a shirt tied around her neck after a prolonged attack.

Neighbours had heard screaming, but did nothing.

Martinson, then 17, had stomped her to death, inflicting injuries akin to a bad car crash.

That night the pair had been drinking with others at a city bar before Martinson walked Miss Wood home.

Why he killed her is a mystery and in interviews with police Martinson said he "blacked out" and could not remember his actions.

After a trial in 1994 he was sentenced to a minimum 13-year jail term, but spent about 19 years inside until he was freed last August.

Yesterday he appeared before four Parole Board members to report on his progress.

He spoke clearly, if a little nervously at first, about his challenging first months outside prison since the early 1990s.

The four panel members sat at the front of a meeting room, glancing at their laptops and asking questions.

Martinson, now in his mid-30s, with short hair and a goatee, was seated at the back of the room.

He was polite and nodded as the board members told him how well he was doing.

"Some things have changed," he said.

"It's a lot quicker out there than I expected it to be. I have adjusted to it. It took a bit."

The Manawatu Standard cannot say where he lives, but can report that he is looking for a farming job.

Money is tight at the moment too, but perhaps one of the hardest things he must do is explain his past.

Associate professor Philip Brindad, a forensic psychiatrist, reminded him of the "risk factors" should he want to have a relationship with any of his female friends.

"A couple of my female friends already know everything," Martinson said.

"It took a while to tell them ... It went better than I thought it would, I was surprised.

"They actually responded quite well."

His past also came up at a job interview when Martinson was asked if he had any convictions.

"[The employer] sort of sat back for a second. He carried on for the interview but at the end he said that I was not quite suited to the position that's on offer."

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Martinson expected such questions would arise, saying his name was out there and anybody could easily look it up.

Board member Bryan McMurray asked if Martinson felt "daunted" by trying to find a place to live.

"It hasn't changed too much - just the price," Martinson said.

He is on the sickness benefit, but that could change to the unemployment benefit when he finishes his programmes with a social services organisation.

Martinson said he hoped he could get some farm work.

"I just have a love for farming. If I don't love the job I'm doing, I can't put 100 per cent into it."

Recently he has been stretched financially and for the first time had to receive a food parcel. He has "limited skills", so finding a job is hard.

Mr McMurray asked what the biggest risks would be to staying crime-free.

"There's not too many out there," Martinson said.

"I'm staying away from all the negative people and staying with the positive people around me."

He also tries to avoid alcohol.

"I don't want to even go there. Once I have one, it could lead to two. I don't want to get on that train.

"[I had] a lot of years in jail. I don't want to be coming back."

Board member Shannon Pakura, a former chief social worker for Child, Youth and Family, asked if he had any interests such as a church or the gym. Boredom and isolation could sometimes be "risk factors" for former prisoners, she said.

Martinson said he could not afford the gym. He was not religious, but would help the community with things like people shifting houses.

He was making friends. Some he had just met "in town".

When it was suggested he take a training course, Martinson said he struggled with those because of his anxiety.

He welcomed the idea of getting his driver's licence, saying he would speak to his probation officer about that.

Overall, the board members seemed impressed.

"You've got a good attitude, so well done," Mr McMurray said.

"Good luck with your reintegration. I hope things go well in terms of finding a place to live and getting a job."

Martinson will see the board again in May, 20 years to the month since he killed Miss Wood.

- Manawatu Standard

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