WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A jury of six men and six women has determined the verdict for 22-year-old Martez Travon Vrana on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in the 30th District Court.
The jury found Vrana guilty of capital murder for the fatal shooting of Jason Baum in June 2020 after only 25 minutes of deliberation.
Judge Meredith Kennedy returned a sentence for Vrana shortly after the verdict was read. Vrana has been sentenced to life without parole.
The trial was being held in 78th District Court, but was relocated to the 30th District Courtroom, a much larger courtroom, to accommodate for the expected crowd, court officials said.
The trial had been in recess since Monday afternoon in order to call Noah Leverett, a potential witness currently incarcerated with the Texas Department of Corrections.
However, once on the stand, Leverett refused to testify in the case.
From there, presiding Judge Meredith McKinney charged the jury, and both sides presented closing arguments.
Chief Felony Prosecutor Dobie Kosub addressed the statute for liability in the state of Texas, which holds that if a felony is being committed, and a different felony instead happened, all parties involved are charged with the felony that actually happened.
Kosub argued the intended felony was aggravated robbery, which he said Vrana was a party to, but since the actual felony committed was murder, he is guilty as a party to capital murder.
Defense Attorney John Stickles countered, suggesting Vrana and his three codefendants were attempting to buy marijuana, not commit a robbery, so the charge of capital murder does not apply.
After nearly two hours of closing arguments, the case was handed to the jury.
The former Hirschi High School quarterback was the first of four defendants charged with Baum’s murder to go to trial.
Dimonique McKinney, Sammy Worthy, and Antwan Williams are all currently being held in the Wichita County Jail on capital murder charges. Their trial dates have not yet been set.
The trial began Wednesday, June 8, with a day of emotional outbursts and Vrana’s defense attorney John Stickles calling for a mistrial.
78th District Court Judge Meredith Kennedy presided over the trial, during which Worthy, a codefendant, testified, as did Vrana’s sister and now wife.
Stickles objected on grounds of spousal immunity, a longstanding Texas rule that prevents spouses from testifying against each other in court.
However, Kennedy overruled the objection after Chief Felony Prosecutor Dobie Kosub was able to establish the fact that Vrana and his wife were married just over a year ago, and despite the fact that Vrana’s wife considered them “common-law” married, there in fact was no legal grounds for said marriage.
Codefendant Worthy’s account of the events that unfolded on June 11, 2020, that ended in the fatal shooting of Baum in an alley off of Fairway Boulevard differed from the original statement Vrana gave to police.