Visalia man found guilty for arson, attempted murder

A man from Visalia faces a life sentence after attempting to burn down a home and murder four people

VISALIA – Mark Martin could spend the rest of his life in prison for the attempted murder of four people, including his own children, at his ex-girlfriend’s home in Visalia after he tried to burn her house down.

On Aug. 24, a jury for the Tulare County Superior Court found Martin, 37, guilty of arson and attempted murder. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 3 in Department 10, where Martin faces life in prison.

According to the district attorney’s office, the crime took place around 6:38 p.m. on Feb. 7, 2021, which fell on a Super Bowl Sunday. Martin broke into the garage of his ex-girlfriend, with whom he has two children. Martin’s children, his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend were present at the home in Visalia where Martin proceeded to use gasoline to start a fire near the water heater. The fire quickly spread to two cars parked in the garage and other areas but the occupants of the home were able to evacuate safely. The fire was initially believed to be caused from water heater failure but further investigation led fire and police personnel to determine the cause of the fire to be arson.

The next day, Martin made a post on Snapchat directed at his ex-girlfriend about the seriousness of his intentions and hoping the fire instilled fear in her. Additionally, Martin commented on a Visalia Stringer Facebook post about the incident, inquiring about how a water heater could cause so much damage. 

As the investigation continued, law enforcement obtained a video from nearby residences of a man on a BMX bicycle riding to and from the home during the time of the fire. He was dressed in a hoodie, beanie, mask and gloves. Martin, known for the attire and mode of transportation, was positively identified as the man on the bicycle. He was arrested two days later on Feb. 9.

At the trial, evidence presented showed a pattern of harassment and threats from Martin to his ex-girlfriend prior to the incident. This included voicemails to her wishing she would “die a slow death” and “burn to death.” A note was also left on her car threatening her new boyfriend to end their relationship. Additionally, statements came out that an hour after the incident took place, Martin was bragging about setting the fire. 

Martin was convicted of four counts of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation, one count of arson and one count of first-degree residential burglary. He also has multiple felony convictions for receiving stolen property, carrying a loaded firearm, burglary and vandalism. 

The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Christian Park and was investigated by the Visalia Police Department.  

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