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Brenda Lewis, first cousin to murder victim Zoelina Toney, gets a hug from a family member outside the courtroom where Curtis Martin was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at Renee C. Davidson Superior Courthouse in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Curtis Martin was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Zoelina Toney, 23, and her 17 month old baby, Jashon Williams. (Laura A. Oda/Staff)

OAKLAND -- The first time Curtis Martin killed a toddler, a lack of evidence allowed the 41-year-old to make a plea deal that released him from prison after six years.

But the second time Martin killed a child, the evidence against him was overwhelming and resulted Friday in Martin being sent to prison for the rest of his life.

Bringing an end to a tragic criminal case that saw two people killed, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Vern Nakahara sentenced Martin to six life terms without the possibility of parole.

"Mr. Curtis Martin will die in state prison," Nakahara said. "He will not be released in the future."

Martin was defiant during his sentencing hearing, at one point loudly objecting to having the victims' family members speak and telling Nakahara to "keep quite" after the judge scolded Martin for an outburst.

Martin admitted killing Zoelina Toney, 23, and her 17-month-old son, Jashon, in 2009 in what police said was a horrific series of events that began with Martin killing Jashon and later killing Toney in an attempt to conceal the killing of her child.

Toney's beaten body was found by Berkeley police at Aquatic Park. During their investigation, police learned that Jashon had gone missing. Several days later, kayakers discovered the toddler's body floating in San Francisco Bay, near the Berkeley Marina.


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Martin was connected to both killings and charged with a special circumstances murder that made him eligible for the death penalty. His criminal charges also included a prior manslaughter conviction for killing 3-year-old Devon Brewer in 1994.

Martin escaped a lengthy prison term for the killing of Devon after prosecutors could not collect enough information to prove murder in the case. Instead, Martin took a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. He was released on parole in six years and soon began dating Toney.

In the days before he killed Toney, Martin was in custody of her child, and evidence presented at a preliminary hearing showed that Toney suspected Martin had done something with Jashon because he refused to meet with her or give her child back.

On Nov. 13, 2009, Toney's body was found, and soon after Martin was arrested for her murder and later charged with the murder of Jashon. Martin was also charged with killing multiple people and killing a witness.

The Oakland native's crimes made him eligible for the death penalty, but Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley sought a life without the possibility of parole punishment instead.

Just before a jury was to be selected for the trial, Martin decided to admit to the crimes. He pleaded guilty to all charges against him and agreed to give up any future appeals.

Though Martin will be sent to prison for life, the pain he caused the victims' families continues.

"I don't believe the defendant has ever shown remorse," said Brenda Lewis, Toney's cousin. "This will not be the last judgment; he has one more judgment, and he will have to answer to God."

Kianna Reynolds, 38, the mother of Devon, said she still cannot understand why Martin would kill a helpless 3-year-old.

"This is all I have left," Reynolds said as she lifted a sole toddler's shoe. "I will always be at a loss.

"When he dreams, I hope he dreams of the three people he killed," she added.

Deputy district attorney Tim Wellman said Martin's sentencing "closes the book on the violent, murderous, unrepentant life that is Curtis Martin."