Amber Alert Suspect Charged With 17 Felonies; Bond set at $500,000
The Casper man accused of illegally taking of a 14-year-girl to Arizona prompting an AMBER Alert faces 17 felony counts that could put him behind bars for life, according to the charges read during his initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court on Friday.
James Warren Martin, 36, was originally charged with interference with custody and abandoning or endangering children, according to the Casper Police affidavit supporting the criminal complaint filed Nov. 18.
Those charges were the result of the initial investigation of Martin's and the girl's activities leading up to their leaving Casper.
However, Natrona Assistant District Attorney Blaine Nelson said Friday that file has been dismissed.
Circuit Court Judge Brian Christensen then read the 17 new counts against Martin:
- Five counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, with each count punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment.
- Four counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, with each count punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.
- Four count of third-degree sexual abuse of minor, with each count punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment.
- Three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, with each count punishable by between five and 12 years imprisonment.
- One count of felony interference with custody, punishable by up to five years imprisonment.
The alleged crimes occurred from Sept. 15, 2021, to Oct. 31, 2022, Christensen said.
Nelson made an impassioned plea for a high bond.
Martin poses an extreme flight risk and a danger to public safety, especially to the alleged victim, he said.
Martin's behavior also showed he planned the grooming and taking of the victim, he said.
Martin quit his job abruptly; told people he was leaving and not coming back; withdrew a large sum of money from his back account; took out a payday loan; crossed state lines; changed his and the alleged victim's clothing, hair color and style; and used multiple phones.
He also gave indications that he wanted to take the alleged victim to Mexico and avoid further extradition, Nelson said.
Martin has no criminal history, but the flight risk is enormous, Nelson said.
The prosecutor asked Christensen to set his bond at $1 million, without specifying whether it should be cash only or cash or surety.
Nelson wrote a no-contact list of names on a note and gave it to the judge so he wouldn't have to read their names aloud in court. If Martin was able to bond out, the terms would include not possessing any weapons because of a risk of self-harm, and not possess or consume alcohol because he used alcohol in the process of grooming the victim, Nelson added.
Christensen asked Martin if he had any comment, and he responded that the bond was substantial.
Christensen set Martin's bond at $500,000 cash only with the condition that he have no contact with the alleged victim or her relatives.
The case started on Oct. 18 when the girl's guardian reported that Martin had been grooming the girl. The guardian noticed "weird behavior" between the two because of the amount of time they spent with each other and the girl didn't hang around with other kids or her family, according to the police affidavit.
A friend of the girl reported that she refused to skip school when the girl asked her to on Nov. 16, and that the girl said she would be picked up by someone. The friend also said the girl claimed to have a 17-year-old boyfriend but she never saw him or knew anything about him, according to the affidavit.
Subsequent attempts by Martin's family and friends to contact him were unsuccessful.
The AMBER Alert was announced on Nov. 17.
Martin and the girl were located later on Highway 95 in western Arizona by the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office. The Lake Havasu office of the Phoenix Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation responded to conduct the local investigation in Arizona.
The Casper Police Department said in a prepared statement earlier Friday that Martin waived extradition Arizona on Nov. 26, and was brought to Natrona County on Thursday.
The department's also said the FBI had filed charges in this case.
However, FBI and federal court databases did not list any charges filed against Martin as of Friday afternoon.