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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The mother of a Cedar Rapids man fatally shot during a drug deal said Tuesday she felt like part of her life was “taken, stolen” when her son died July 2, 2017.
Rochelle Johnson, in a victim impact statement, said she can never hear, see or hug her son, Andrew Meeks, 26, again. Her grandchildren will have to grow up without a father and uncle.
She asked the judge to make his killer, Quarzone Martin, 33, serve his entire sentence. Johnson said Martin’s family will at least still get to see him, even if in prison, but the only way she can see her son is by going to a grave.
Martin, charged with second-degree murder, pleaded to lesser charges just before his trial was to begin Nov. 30 in Dubuque after being moved out of Linn County because of pretrial publicity. Martin was convicted in Linn County in 2018, but his conviction was overturned on appeal last year.
After the sentencing, Assistant Linn County Attorney Jordan Schier said a key witness had backed out just before the new trial was set to start. Schier found out that Johnny Moore Jr., who was seriously injured by Martin, was refusing to testify. That’s why prosecutors thought a plea agreement would be the best resolution and give the Meeks family justice for their loved one.
Martin pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, willful injury causing serious injury and going armed with intent. The prosecution and defense agreed to ask 6th Judicial District Senior Judge Patrick Grady to run all the sentences consecutively for 25 years in prison. Martin has served four years on the second-degree murder conviction and will be given credit on this new sentence.
Grady also ordered Martin to pay $150,000 to Meeks’ estate or his heirs, as required by Iowa law.
Martin was previously convicted of fatally shooting Meeks and seriously injuring Moore, who was 30 at the time. According to testimony, Martin was armed when he met Meeks and Moore in the Walmart parking lot in southwest Cedar Rapids on July 2, 2017. The three men were all in a vehicle when the shooting occurred.
Moore testified Martin shot them during a drug deal involving Xanax pills. The dispute was over Martin, who was selling the pills, shorting Meeks and Moore on the number of pills. Meeks and Moore were not armed, according to testimony.
Martin, during sentencing, told the Meeks family there were no words he could say to take back what happened, but “I am sorry and apologize.”
Tyler Johnston, one of Martin’s lawyers, during the hearing said he didn’t believe justice was done in this case. He felt like anybody would have done the same thing as Martin under those circumstances.
He said he didn’t feel it was “justice” to charge the highest offense any time a crime results in a death. Johnston also apologized to Martin for failing him.
Martin was charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder at the first trial, but the jury found him guilty of the lesser charges of second-degree murder, assault with intent to inflict serious injury, willful injury causing serious injury and going armed with intent.
The Iowa Court of Appeals in 2020 overturned the conviction, granting Martin a new trial based on an error that Grady made. The court said Grady shouldn't have included a jury instruction informing jurors that Martin, who claimed self-defense, didn't report the use of deadly force to authorities and that he got rid of the gun after the shooting.
That instruction was a violation of Martin’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the appeals court ruled.
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