A New Orleans judge on Wednesday sentenced the girlfriend of a man convicted in the notorious drowning deaths of a Reserve couple who were thrown off an Interstate 510 bridge tied to kettlebells.
Criminal District Court Judge Ben Willard sentenced Brittany Martin to a 10-year prison term, with five years suspended, for obstruction of justice.
With credit for time served and good behavior, she will likely spend about six more months behind bars, according to her attorney, David Belfield.
Martin, 29, was originally charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the killings of Kenneth and Lakeitha Joseph. After she turned on her boyfriend and other defendants in the case, however, prosecutors dismissed all the charges against her except for obstruction of justice.
Authorities have never revealed a suspected motive for the deaths of the Josephs, who were last seen alive in late February 2014. Their bloated bodies were discovered floating in the Intracoastal Waterway weeks later.
Belfield said he had requested a sentence that would essentially amount to time served. He expressed disappointment that his client will have to return to jail despite testifying at two murder trials and receiving death threats.
“I’m not happy about it, but it could have been a lot worse for Brittany,” Belfield said.
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Martin offered extensive testimony on the stand implicating her onetime boyfriend Horatio Johnson, whom she met while he was an inmate and she was a prison guard, as well as rapper Steven “Future” Bradley.
Martin said she watched as Johnson beat Lakeitha Joseph inside a music studio in Metairie, then hours later saw Bradley load the Josephs’ bodies into a van. Bradley and two other men then drove the van to the I-510 bridge between New Orleans East and Chalmette, she said.
Defense attorneys painted Martin as a conniving, spurned ex-lover who turned state’s evidence to save her own skin.
Police were able to recover surveillance video from a Kenner Wal-Mart of Johnson and Martin buying kettlebells on the night of the killings.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said in a statement that he hoped Martin would spend her remaining time in prison rehabilitating herself.
"Though it is distasteful to show leniency toward anyone involved in these heinous murders, we acknowledge that Ms. Martin's cooperation and testimony proved crucial to the successful prosecutions of the men who conceived and carried out these brutal killings," Cannizzaro said.
Johnson was sentenced to two life terms plus 60 years in August.
Bradley was convicted of lesser charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice and was sentenced to 35 years.
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Another man suspected in the killings, Amir “Blue” Ybarra, is believed to have fled the country.
Belfield said his client has moved out of the state and hopes to resume rebuilding her life when she is released. She had been free on $50,000 bail since February 2015.
“Brittany is going to be all right, but she has to live with several things. She has to deal with the constant memory of those two deaths. She has to live with constantly looking over her shoulder,” Belfield said, referring to Ybarra. “So I don’t know that she ever gets to put this behind her totally.”