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Man pleads guilty to 2019 murder of Ardmore resident

Sierra Rains
srains@ardmoreite.com
Jack Latham

An Ardmore man will spend the next 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to the 2019 murder of Martin Lucas. 

Jack Latham, 54, was arrested in connection with the Ardmore homicide investigation in Nov. 2019 and charged with first-degree murder. On Tuesday, Oct. 27, Latham entered into a plea bargain agreement allowing him to plead guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder. 

Latham received a sentence of 45 years in the department of corrections with all but 25 years suspended. This means that Latham will serve 25 years of incarceration, followed by 20 years of probation. Due to the violent nature of the offense, Latham will be required to serve 85% of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. 

“The plea offer extended to the defendant was made after a careful consideration of the many circumstances surrounding the case and through a consultation with Marty Lucas’s family,” said District Attorney Craig Ladd. “Like me, they agreed that yesterday’s development was an appropriate resolution of the case.”

Ladd said the primary reason he and the victim’s family agreed to amend the charge to second-degree murder was due to concerns that a jury might not be sufficiently satisfied that Latham’s actions were motivated by the level of premeditation typically associated with first-degree murder. 

According to Oklahoma State Statute, homicide is considered murder in the second degree when “perpetrated by an act imminently dangerous to another person… although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual.” 

A person commits murder in the first degree when that person causes the death of another human being with malice or forethought. Oklahoma State Statute defines malice as a “deliberate intention to take away the life of a human being.” 

“It should be noted that a likely reason the defendant entered a plea of guilty was because of the top-notch investigation into Marty’s death by the Ardmore Police Department, which was spearheaded by Detective Brice Woolly,” Ladd said. “Detective Woolly’s work on the case was truly exceptional.”

The Ardmore Police Department launched a homicide investigation after 63-year-old Martin Lucas was found deceased inside his Ardmore residence near Q Street Northwest on Nov. 16, 2019. According to an affidavit, Lucas lived in the home alone and had injuries consistent with blunt force trauma to his head and body. 

“It was a fairly gruesome crime scene,” APD Capt. Eric Hamblin, who is now retired, told The Ardmoreite in 2019. Hamblin described the victim’s injuries as wounds that would resemble those of someone who had jumped off a building. 

During the investigation, police noticed that some property was missing from Lucas’s home. Among the missing items was a 2004 dark green Chevrolet pickup owned by Lucas. A few days later, on Nov. 19, Lucas’ truck was found abandoned in Springdale, Arkansas. 

According to the affidavit, Springdale police seized the vehicle and stored it for evidence processing, later finding that Latham had been in possession of the truck. At the time, Latham had been incarcerated in Benton County, Arkansas on outstanding warrants in that jurisdiction. 

Hamblin and Sgt. Brice Woolly traveled to Arkansas to help assist in processing the vehicle and obtained further evidence that placed Latham in the stolen truck belonging to the victim. Among the evidence was a pair of shoes belonging to Latham. 

Tests conducted on the shoes showed that they contained the presence of human blood. With assistance from the Springdale Police Department, investigators also found the presence of human blood inside the stolen vehicle. 

Ardmore investigators also found that Latham had injuries on his person consistent with a physical struggle at the time he was booked into the Benton County Jail, according to the affidavit. A follow-up investigation determined that Latham was in Ardmore at the time of Lucas’s death, and investigators were made aware that Latham knew the victim. 

“Sgt. Brice Woolly has worked his tail off, as well as the other investigators in this unit, and I’m very proud of these guys, they’re top notch," Hamblin said following Latham's arrest.