The jury foreperson in the first trial of the Mongols Motorcycle club member who shot and killed a Pomona SWAT officer said she made friends with the man and his family after the verdict and denies being in a romantic relationship with him.
“They became very good friends and family to me,” Janine Eiley said.
The first jury in 2019 found David Martinez not guilty of the first-degree murder of Officer Shaun Diamond but couldn’t decide on the second-degree murder charge. That trial ended in a hung jury. Eiley, who voted to acquit, said there was “overwhelming reasonable doubt” and believes the defense argument of self defense: that Martinez fired a 12-gauge shotgun to protect his family on Oct. 28, 2014.
Martinez testified he thought it was other Mongols members trying to break in and not officers. He said he didn’t hear officers say “police” or “search warrant”.
“For me, it boils down to did he hear police and did he see. If he didn’t see or hear, (it’s) very reasonable someone else is coming,” Eiley said.
Eiley visited Martinez in county jail and often talked to him by phone. The nurse also frequently attended the second trial, which ended last year with that jury acquitting him of second-degree murder. On Tuesday, Eiley sat with Martinez’s family during his sentencing where he received 10 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter as part of a plea deal.
It was her first time being on a jury, Eiley said about the first trial. She left the courtroom in tears after it ended. She said she wanted to make amends.
“I was so disillusioned afterwards, because I felt that some people voted based on their own biases and feelings, instead of the rules of the court,” Eiley said.
She said she met Martinez’s family after the jury was dismissed.
“I contacted him through his family, because I wanted to right a wrong. We became very good friends, then family, especially his mom who I love to pieces and is just such a wonderful human being.”
Eiley said she was only going to court twice a week for the second trial to show her support. But Martinez’s parents weren’t allowed inside the courtroom so she went for them then relayed to them what happened.
Sheriff’s Detective Ray Lugo, who investigated the fatal shooting of Diamond, called the two verdicts a travesty and questioned if Eiley and Melissa Armstrong, the foreperson of the second jury, had ulterior motives. Lugo said he was referring to Eiley when he spoke during the sentencing about a juror falling in love with a defendant and was referring to Armstrong when he mentioned a juror writing a movie script.
Armstrong told KABC she was planning to write a future screenplay about the case. Armstrong, who also sat with the Martinez family on Tuesday, declined comment after the sentencing.
Jurors in criminal cases such as the trial of O.J. Simpson have written books afterward. But it’s not clear if Eiley becoming close to Martinez and his family and Armstrong’s idea to write a screenplay will change the outcome of the first and second trials.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined comment. The state Attorney General’s Office, court officials and Martinez’s lawyer, Brady Sullivan, couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Lugo, who believes Eiley loves Martinez, said she and another juror went to the Martinez home and had coffee with Martinez’s mother days after the end of the first trial.
“All of a sudden she fell in love after the verdicts are read?,” he asked. “It’s suspicious.”
Eiley and Martinez are heard exchanging “I love yous” during a phone call Martinez made while at Men’s Central Jail. This newspaper recently obtained the audio of the call.
“You and me, like, we have this, more I wish I could express,” Martinez said to Eiley. “But I fear to express because, just the way they would try to twist things up. So I have to measure myself in what I say.”
At the end of the day, Eiley told Martinez they are very good friends.
“I love you dearly and I love you unconditionally and I will support you in any and everything,” she said.
Later in the call she reiterated her support and affection.
“I love you dearly. No matter what, no matter who, no matter anything and I’m here,” Eiley told Martinez. “Even if I never see you again for 10 to 15 to 20 years and you’re like ‘Janine,’ or whatever, I’m there.”
She has also told Martinez’s mother “I love you,” Eisley said on Wednesday.
“I say ‘I love you’ to my friends, people I don’t know, people in church. I have a love for mankind.”
Joy Diamond, the officer’s mother, doesn’t believe Eiley and Martinez are just friends. Martinez will not be coming home to his family but to Eiley, she said.
“I am suspicious of her motives,” Joy Diamond said.
She’s also skeptical of Armstrong, who professed wanting to write a screenplay.
“Do I think she (Armstrong) got on the jury for nefarious reasons? Yeah,” Joy Diamond said.
In addition, she didn’t like that the judge stayed the 10-year sentence for the assault charge. Martinez needs to serve the 10 years for this charge too, she said,
Tuesday’s sentencing upset her.
“I was kind of in shock. That is not justice for Shaun,” she said.
Martinez has taken accountability for what happened and is extremely remorseful, according to Eiley. He knows he’s been given a second chance by the judge, she added.
They plan to work together to help others to do better, be better and to give them a chance, she said. When Martinez gets out, she said he wants to reach out to troubled youth and use his story as a motivation. To show them there are other choices they can make, according to Eiley.
“I really believe that I was placed in his life to help facilitate change, that is also why I support him, because in supporting him, it opens up a whole new way of living and helping others,” she said.
Staff writer Hunter Lee contributed to this report.