Attempted murderer, arsonist sentenced to life

Mark Martin is sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of attempted murder and arson against his ex-girlfriend in 2021

VISALIA – An attempted murderer and arsonist who all but turned himself in for his crimes was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday, May 24. He was originally found guilty for his crimes on Aug. 24, 2022.

According to the Tulare County District Attorney’s office, at around 6:38 pm on Feb. 7, 2021, Super Bowl Sunday, Mark Martin, 38, broke into the garage of his ex-girlfriend with whom he has two young children. His ex-girlfriend, children and his ex’s boyfriend were in the Visalia home. Martin used gasoline to start a fire near the water heater, which quickly accelerated to two cars in the garage and other areas. The occupants of the home safely evacuated. Initially believed to be a water heater failure, further investigation led fire and police personnel to determine arson as the cause.

Through investigation, law enforcement obtained video from nearby residences that captured a man on a BMX bicycle riding to and from the area of the residence during the time of the fire. The man was dressed in a hoodie, beanie, mask and gloves, a known outfit and mode of transportation for Martin, who was positively identified.

The next day, Martin made a Snapchat post directed at his ex-girlfriend about the seriousness of his intentions and the fear that he hoped the fire instilled in her. Additionally, Martin commented on the Visalia Stringer Facebook page post about the incident, asking how a water heater could cause so much damage. Martin was arrested Feb. 9.

Evidence presented at trial displayed a pattern of harassment and threats made prior to the incident by Martin including voicemails to his ex-girlfriend 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 Martin bragged about setting the fire less than an hour after the incident.

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