TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A 38-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison for attempted murder and arson that took place on Super Bowl Sunday, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Court documents show that on Feb. 7, 2021, at around 6:30 p.m. during the Super Bowl, 38-year-old Mark Martin broke into the garage of his ex-girlfriend – with whom he has two children.
DA officials say his ex, both of his children, and his ex’s boyfriend were present in the Visalia home. Martin proceeded to use gasoline for two cars in the garage and other areas.
The occupants of the home were able to leave safely, according to the authorities. Officials say they initially believed the incident was related to a water heater failure, but further investigation led fire and police personnel to determine arson as the cause.
Law enforcement says they 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, according to the DA’s office.
Prosecutors say 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, officials say 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 on February 9 and 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 his ex’s 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 according to the official report.
On August 24, 2022, the Tulare County DA’s office announced that 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.
Prosecutors added that Martin has multiple felony convictions for receiving stolen property, carrying a loaded firearm, burglary, and vandalism.
According to current California sentencing laws, Martin will not be eligible for a parole hearing until 2051.