Crime & Courts

Man sentenced to 12 years in New Year’s shooting death

Nate Clark’s father, Johnny Clark, told the judge he didn’t agree with a plea-bargain that could send his son’s killer to prison for less than 13 years.

Nate Clark’s grandfather, Joe Clark, said he did a lot more prison time than that for a far less serious crime — armed robbery.

“I did 29 years and nine months in Lansing and Hutch,” he told the judge. “I never killed nobody. I never stabbed nobody.... I’ve got a lot of friends up there, too.”

Defense lawyer Charles O’Hara objected to the last comment, which he said could be interpreted as a threat to his client, who was about to be sentenced in the Jan. 1, 2012, shooting death of Nate Clark, 23.

At the end of a hearing that saw four law enforcement officers stationed between members of the two families involved, Joshua Martin, 24, was sentenced to 12 years and three months in prison for second-degree murder and discharging a firearm at an occupied vehicle.

Wichita police said Martin was among a group of people who were gathered at a New Year’s party on Jan. 1, 2012, in the 6300 block of South Madison when a fight broke out. Police said the loser called some friends, who drove to the scene. The group of friends decided to leave when they realized they were outnumbered. Police said Martin fired at the car as it drove away. One of the bullets went through the trunk of the car and struck Clark, 23, in the back.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” Martin said before he was sentenced. “I’m sorry for the victim’s family. It’ll never happen again.”

His words did little to cool the anger of the victim’s family. Nate Clark’s grandmother, Johnnie Clark, vowed that “every parole board he sees, I’ll be there.”

Johnny Clark, the father, stared at the defendant through most of the hearing before rising to speak,

“On his birthday I had to go to the cemetery,” he said. “On Christmas, I had to go to the cemetery. My son didn’t get no second chance here.”

District Judge Phil Journey them imposed the maximum sentence — 138 months for second-degree murder and nine months for discharging a firearm at an occupied vehicle — and ordered Martin to serve them consecutively.

“Nothing I can say or do can bring the child back,” Journey said before turning his attention to the Clark family. “There’s nothing you can do to undo what has been done.”