Former soldier arraigned in attack on Olympia judge

Staff writerMay 5, 2014 

Michael Martin

BY JEREMY PAWLOSKI

A former soldier at Joint Base Lewis-McChord pleaded not guilty Monday to throwing sulfuric acid in Thurston County District Judge Michael "Brett" Buckley's face during a September 2012 attack at his Olympia home.

Last year, Thurston County prosecutors charged Michael Edward Martin, 33, with first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and first-degree malicious mischief in connection with the attack on Buckley.

However, Martin was unavailable for arraignment until this past Monday because until recently, he was serving a 17-month federal prison sentence after a conviction for threatening to kill a federal officer.

Martin was transported to the Thurston County Jail Monday upon the completion of his federal prison sentence, and he had his first court appearance for his criminal charges related to the attack on Judge Buckley.

Someone threw battery acid in Buckley's face during the evening of Sept. 10, 2012, after Buckley answered a knock on his door. Buckley immediately doused his face with water and sought medical attention. He was treated for minor injuries at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after the attack, and was back at work on the bench two days after the attack.

Olympia police detectives were initially unable to develop a solid suspect in the attack on Buckley. However, an FBI agent who was investigating Martin in relation to his federal case contacted Olympia Police Detective Chris Johnstone in October 2012.

The FBI agent told Johnstone he had recently executed a search warrant at Martin's Tumwater apartment, and discovered a large container of sulfuric acid there. The FBI agent was aware that sulfuric acid had been used in the attack on Buckley.

Detective Johnstone's subsequent investigation of Martin revealed that Martin was apparently very angry with Buckley after Buckley issued a restraining order barring Martin from having contact with an ex-girlfriend in 2011. 

Martin sent an email to his ex-girlfriend after Buckley issued the restraining order stating that Buckley was "(expletive) incompetent," and that he would refer the ruling to a "real judge," court papers state.

Additionally, Buckley had denied requests for two restraining orders sought by Martin that would have barred the ex-girlfriend from having contact with him.

Johnstone obtained a search warrant for Martin's cellphone, and found that Martin had used it to send himself emails and store "to do" lists. Johnstone found from reading the lists that Martin blamed his ex-girlfriend and others in his chain of command for the end of his 12-year military career.

Also, an entry on one of Martin's "to do" lists on his phone stated he wanted to: "find out who my judge was." Another read: "Recon judge (expletive's) home again (nobody home)." The "to do" message continued: "Go 2 Walgreens 4 water bottles 4 battery acid." Another entry specifically read: "Find out where judge brett buckley lives."

If Martin is convicted of the charges stemming from the attack on Buckley, he could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Thurston County Superior Court Pro Tem Judge Richard Strophy set Martin's bail at $250,000 after Martin pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from the attack on Judge Buckley.

Strophy ordered Martin not to have contact with Buckley or Buckley's family if he makes bail. Martin was being held Monday at the Thurston County Jail.

Martin's 17-month federal prison sentence was for threatening to kill an Army prosecutor in a case involving Martin's involuntary separation from the military in June 2012, Thurston County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Toynbee said.

Martin sent an Army official an email stating that he would "murder" the federal prosecutor in that case, if the prosecutor did not act as he had instructed, court papers state.

In court Monday, Martin's court-appointed attorney Philip Griffith said that his client is an Army combat veteran of the Iraq War.

 

 

 

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445; jpawloski@theolympian.com

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