Martin Jon Pond Jr. surprised prosecutors and pleaded guilty to mitigated deliberate homicide on Monday morning, just before jury selection in his trial was scheduled to begin.
Pond, 28, admitted he shot and killed Allen Douglas Alderman, 52, early on Jan. 3 outside Alderman’s trailer home at 3407 Wasco Ave., in Lockwood.
Senior Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Julie Mees said Pond will be sentenced in February.
Prosecutors are recommending the maximum sentenced allowed, 40 years, plus 10 years for a weapons enhancement. Pond's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Steven Scott, will be able to argue for a lesser sentence.
Pond’s guilty plea came as a surprise, said Chief Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Rod Souza, who was prosecuting the case with Mees.
“I think it’s a good resolution in light of the facts and circumstances of the case,” he said.
A person commits mitigated homicide by murdering someone while “under the influence of extreme mental or emotional stress for which there is reasonable explanation or excuse,” according to Montana law.
Pond initially argued that he acted in self-defense when Alderman allegedly attacked him, according to records filed by his attorney.
Pond’s wife, 26-year-old Tricia Marie Scott, was with Alderman at the time of the shooting. She provided conflicting accounts of what she witnessed, but initially said that Alderman was armed with a knife when he confronted Pond on the night of the shooting, according to prosecutors.
Charging documents portrayed the killing as Pond acting out of jealousy because his wife was spending time with Alderman. In a Nov. 14 deposition, Scott described Alderman both as a “friend” who took her shopping and to casinos — and as an “old pervert” who wanted to sleep with her and gave her enough methamphetamine “every day to probably kill” her.
She also testified about the volatile nature of her open marriage with Pond, who she said she still loves. “Me and Martin have both been physically violent with each other,” she said during the hearing.
Scott was expected to testify, albeit reluctantly, for the state. She remained in custody on an unrelated drug charge.
Pond was previously scheduled for trial Oct 20. But Scott failed to show up, delaying the trial and prompting a judge to issue a warrant for her arrest that allowed her to be held until a deposition or Pond’s trial.
On Monday, Pond was again to go before a 12-person jury in a trial slated to last through Thursday or Friday.
A pool of potential jurors came to the Yellowstone County Courthouse on Monday morning, but District Judge Gregory R. Todd dismissed them after explaining that a plea deal had been reached.
Pond faced a count of deliberate homicide with a weapons enhancement, two counts of tampering with or fabricating evidence and a count of intimidation, all of which are felonies.
The additional charges alleged Pond washed his blood-spattered clothes after the shooting, hid the gun used to kill Alderman and threatened a witness, 20-year-old Calvin Julian Mack, who had information about his activities on the night of the killing.
Souza said Monday that investigators do not have “definitive information” that the murder weapon was ever recovered. Earlier this year, investigators recovered a .44-caliber black-powder revolver that, court records indicate, may have been used in the killing.
ATF and state crime lab experts who tested the gun were listed as witnesses for the trial.
The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the case against Pond early Jan. 3, and several detectives and deputies also were listed as witnesses for the state.
At 4:19 a.m. that day, a Lockwood resident called 911 and reported hearing shots fired at 3407 Wasco Ave., where Alderman lived in a trailer home.
Three minutes later, Tricia Scott (who is no relation to Pond’s attorney, Steven Scott), called 911 and frantically explained “someone got shot.” She identified Alderman as the victim, but told a dispatcher she didn’t know who the shooter was.
Prosecutors played a recording of the call during the Nov. 14 deposition, and it was listed as evidence that would have been presented in Pond’s trial.
At 4:24 a.m., a deputy arrived and found Alderman on the ground outside his trailer. He had been shot multiple times. A large knife and sheath were found nearby.
Alderman died within minutes. In an autopsy later that day, a medical examiner determined Alderman died from internal bleeding.
Detectives interviewed Scott, and she said that she had been at the trailer with Alderman when someone — she assumed it was her husband — began pounding on the door.
She has since given different accounts of what happened next.
In one version of events, she stayed in the trailer and listened as Alderman went outside, armed with a knife, and confronted Pond. She said she heard Alderman threaten to stab Pond and tauntingly say, “shoot me,” after which she heard shots. Pond then came inside with a gun in his hand.
In more recent accounts, she said that she followed Alderman to the door. He was armed with a knife and maybe a gun. She said she saw Alderman swing the knife at Pond and he may have said, “I’ll shoot you.”
She said she didn’t see the shooting, but that Pond came inside and may not have been holding a gun, as she initially told detectives.
In a three-hour deposition on Nov. 14, she blamed meth use and having been awake “for days” at the time of the shooting for the conflicts in her recollection of what happened.
Seconds after hearing shots fired, Scott has said, Pond came inside and asked her to leave with him, which she refused to do.
About 36 hours later, a deputy in Molt found a van Pond is believed to have stolen. His wallet and identification were found close by.
Later on Jan. 4, Pond turned himself in to authorities.
Detectives interviewed three people — Cody Julian Mack Jr., 43; his son, Calvin Julian Mack, 20; and his girlfriend, Katrina Elysha Edens, 33 — who, according to prosecutors, were waiting for Pond in a van near the scene of the shooting.
Prior to the shooting on Jan. 3, Pond showed up at Cody Mack’s home, asking for a ride to Alderman’s home, according to prosecutors.
Cody Mack, his son and his girlfriend took Pond to the area of Alderman’s home and waited in Calvin Mack’s van while Pond went to confront his wife and Alderman.
They reported hearing at least one shot, and when Pond returned Edens reported he said something to the effect of, “I shot him. I think I killed him. I couldn’t shoot her. I love her.”
According to prosecutors, Cody Mack drove the group to another residence, where Pond washed his clothes and then stole Calvin Mack’s minivan.
Initially, Edens, Cody Mack and Calvin Mack allegedly lied to investigators about events surrounding the shooting, prompting prosecutors to charge them with felonies.
Calvin Mack and Edens both took plea deals in which they agreed to testify in Pond’s trial and in exchange prosecutors are reducing the charges against them to misdemeanors.
Cody Mack was charged with obstructing justice and tampering with or fabricating evidence, both felonies. However, he committed suicide in Lockwood on Oct. 23.
After the suicide, Chief Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Rod Souza said Mack’s death would not impact the trial because prosecutors had not planned on calling him as a witness.
Edens and Calvin Mack were listed among the state’s roughly 25 witnesses.
Pond’s trial was to be the last for Souza, who was elected last month to one of six Yellowstone County District Court benches. He said he will assume his judicial duties on Jan. 5.