Crime

Prosecutor: Estate heir had girlfriend shoot Everson man

Esmeralda Martin, 23, left, makes her first appearance in court Thursday, June 25, alongside Chief Deputy Public Defender Starck Follis. County prosecutors allege Martin and her boyfriend conspired to kill a 75-year-old man near Everson, Wash.
Esmeralda Martin, 23, left, makes her first appearance in court Thursday, June 25, alongside Chief Deputy Public Defender Starck Follis. County prosecutors allege Martin and her boyfriend conspired to kill a 75-year-old man near Everson, Wash. The Bellingham Herald

A 75-year-old man was shot at eight times by a woman trying to kill him on instructions from her boyfriend, who is heir to the man’s roughly $2 million estate, according to Whatcom County prosecutors.

Esmeralda Martin, 23, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree attempted murder. Her boyfriend, Sean Robert Head, 26, was arrested on complicity to attempted murder in the first degree.

Head is the heir to Edward Davidson’s estate, which Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney Dave McEachran said is worth an estimated $2 million. Head and Davidson are business partners who operate a rental company called Ahead Vacation Rentals.

Martin visited Davidson’s house at the 7400 block of Oat Coles Road shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 24, telling Davidson she wanted to talk about Head. Davidson, 75, let Martin inside and asked if everything was OK, McEachran said.

She went to the bathroom and came out holding a 9mm handgun, then shot Davidson in the chest and kept firing as Davidson ran out of the house, McEachran said.

Davidson had open gunshot wounds to his chest and armpit, McEachran said. He was rushed to St. Joseph hospital and was in satisfactory condition hours after the shooting.

Martin took off before law enforcement arrived at the scene, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. A deputy spotted her driving in Lynden less than two hours later and detained her.

When Martin was told by deputies that Davidson had survived, she said her boyfriend had tried to hire someone to kill Davidson because Davidson wasn’t a good person. She eventually decided she would do it “because she loved Sean and did not want to see him so stressed out,” McEachran said.

Martin and Head had been planning to murder Davidson for a few months and went over the plan the morning of the shooting, McEachran said, adding Head “provided her with earplugs, showed her how to shoot the gun, and how to pull the trigger.”

A handgun was found inside Martin’s purse, which was thrown in the garbage near Head’s house in Bellingham after the shooting, McEachran said. Deputies continue to investigate phone records used by the couple, including two disposable phones.

Head and Martin were separated during their first court appearance Thursday, with Martin showing tears most of the time. Martin’s bail was set at $1 million, and Head’s at $750,000.

Davidson is expected to survive the shooting. He formerly owned Wardner’s Castle in Fairhaven and operated it as a bed and breakfast for several years before selling it in 2005. He has been working with Head since 2007 and has an eBay account in which he describes Head as “a young computer genius.”

Head has little criminal history in Whatcom County, said Chief Deputy Public Defender Starck Follis. He started managing rentals with Davidson in 2007.

Martin is a cocktail waitress at Silver Reef Casino and has no criminal history. She finalized a divorce with the father of her toddler in January 2015, according to court records. The child is currently residing with the father.

Reach Wilson Criscione at 360-756-2803 or wilson.criscione@bellinghamherald.com.

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