A British man arrested last year for axing to death a US citizen in Koh Kong province has been released from jail, a court official and the man’s lawyers said.
The court lessened the charge against Robert Martin, 47, from intentional killing to unintentional killing after a three-hour trial on Aug 10 and ordered his release, Koh Kong provincial prosecutor Keo Sim said. He received a retroactive sentence of 13 months and 25 days, the length of time he had already served in jail.
Authorities accused Martin of killing Byron Pickett, 36, as the pair drove along National Route 4 into Koh Kong town on the night of June 14. Villagers discovered Pickett’s body in a mountain ravine the next day, and Martin was arrested hours later.
Defense attorney Sum Samouen of Legal Aid of Cambodia argued before the trial and in court that Martin was acting in self-defense when he killed Pickett.
Martin struck Pickett with an electric cattle prod, causing him to fall down the rocky slope and incur the deep wounds on the body, Sum Samouen said.
“They spent many months investigating but could not find any evidence to rightfully accuse him of a premeditated killing,” the attorney said Monday.
It was not clear Monday whether Martin remained in Cambodia. John Mitchell, deputy head of mission at the British Embassy, said he could not comment on consular affairs. The US embassies in Phnom Penh and Bangkok also declined immediate comment.
In written statements to police in the weeks following his arrest, Martin maintained that he had met Pickett days before the trip. But two of those statements varied: In one version, he fought off a drug- and alcohol-addled Pickett on the night of the man’s death and confessed to killing him accidentally.
In an earlier statement, Martin told police he had delivered a piece of luggage and left his companion with a third man at Koh Kong’s secluded airport, then left Koh Kong with no knowledge of Pickett’s death until police stopped him at a Route 4 ferry.