Facebook Comment Provides Motive for Murder

On July 17, 2013, a gunman burst into the Oklahoma City apartment of Edmond James Tyree, 48, killing Tyree and wounding his friend Michael Joe Hale. Hale says the gunman did not say anything before opening fire, and police say the victims were not robbed. A motive appeared when investigators noticed that five days prior to the shooting, Tyree commented "damm" on a Facebook photo of a woman in a bathing suit. Her boyfriend, Antwion Courtez Martin, 20, responded under the name "Twon Goinsteady Martin," asking "Cuz wat that f*** u mean damm." The woman, identified as Sharda Perkins, lived in the same apartment complex as Tyree. Hale told reporters that Tyree told him a few weeks prior to the shooting that he and Perkins "had been together." After the shooting, Hale was looking at Tyree's Facebook profile and noticed Perkins was a friend. When he viewed her page, he saw Martin and identified him as the shooter. According to a police affidavit, Martin admitted to "having words" with Tyree over the comment. After Martin's arrest, Perkins wrote on Facebook that he was "face n some serious a** charges for some s*** yu didn't even do."  The charges are serious, indeed. Martin has been charged with first degree murder and shooting with intent to kill. First degree murder is punishable by life in prison without parole, and shooting with intent to kill carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Crimes related to Facebook have increased exponentially in correlation with the growth of the platform. In 2012, The Guardian reported that social media crimes increased 748 percent in just four years. Facebook crimes typically involve online bullying, but a number of high profile cases involve domestic violence in which one partner becomes jealous or enraged after seeing a Facebook post or photograph:

  • In 2009, Brian Lewis killed his wife Haylie Jones after she changed her Facebook relationship status from "married" to "single."
  • In 2010, Paul Bristol killed his girlfriend Camille Mathurasingh after seeing a picture of her with another man on her Facebook profile.
  • In 2010, Adam Mann killed his ex-wife Lisa Beverly after she called him "a joke" on Facebook for failing to provide child support.
  • In 2012, Marvin Potter became angry that Billy Payne, Jr., and Billie Jean Hayworth deleted his adult daughter as a Facebook friend. Payne and Hayworth were shot to death as Hayworth held the couple's baby. Potter and another man, Jamie Lynn Curd, have been charged with murder. Potter's daughter, Jenelle Potter, and wife, Barbara Potter, have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
  • In August of this year, Derek Medina shot and killed his wife, Jennifer Alfonso, and posted pictures of her body on Facebook with the status, "I'm going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife."
Facebook has not only been an instigator for violent crime, but it has also become a useful tool for law enforcement officials who are able to solve cases when suspects brag about their actions on the social media platform, confess to crimes in order to salve their conscious, or make comments that provide motive. When defense attorneys caution defendants to never talk about their cases, this of course includes making comments on Facebook. For some reason, people are assured by the anonymity of the internet without realizing that their social profiles, even if set to "private" leave a lasting record of their words. If you are involved in a crime or suspected of a crime, do not talk about your case. Do not Facebook about your case. Do not Tweet, Instagram, MySpace, text, or anything else about your case. Close your lips, still your typing fingers, and call a lawyer as quickly as possible. Click here to find an attorney who can help with your defense.

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