Qushawinia Martin was arrested after someone used a stolen ID to book a motel room in Jackson the night of a homicide. Now that authorities have decided the evidence that she couldn’t have been there is overwhelming, she’s trying to make sense of it all.
JACKSON, Miss. — On Sept. 12, Qushawinia Martin got her usual wakeup call from her mother at 4:53 a.m. She had no idea her life was already changing in ways she couldn’t imagine and couldn’t prevent.
The Verona mother and child care operator helped her three children get ready for the day and took them to daycare, dropping them off at 5:58 a.m. A witness and security cameras from the gas station next door corroborate that, Willie Allen, her attorney, said Monday.
At 6:05 a.m., Martin arrived at the daycare she runs. So far, it seemed like a normal Tuesday.
What Martin didn’t know was that hours earlier in Jackson, about 185 miles away, a couple had checked into the Mustang Inn using Martin’s ID — one that had been lost or stolen a while back, Allen said. A photocopy was made of it at check-in.
The pair allegedly shot Freddie Mosley multiple times. Despite his wounds, Mosley, 28, managed to drive away. Moments later, he died behind the wheel, his car crashing into a Mr. Transmission auto repair shop a few blocks from the motel around 3:15 a.m.
An article in the Clarion-Ledger later that day included a description of the crime:
The suspect in the shooting is described as a black male wearing a gray tank top and blue jeans. The suspect’s vehicle is described as a dark-colored mid-size SUV. He was accompanied by two black females who police have identified as Qushawinia Martin, 30, and Samayah Reed, 23. They are wanted for questioning.
That’s when Martin’s nightmare started.
Martin got a call from her husband who had read the story. She called the Jackson Police Department, seeking to clear her name. A detective was adamant Martin needed to come to Jackson immediately.
“One minute I’m going about my normal routine, the next minute it was just like, what am I to do? Where am I to go? Who am I to go to?” Martin said. “All those questions ran into my head, how did this happen, why did it happen, how could it happen?”
That’s when she contacted attorney Allen, who set to work to find information that showed that Martin could not have been involved in the homicide.
Allen gathered phone records, eyewitnesses, GPS triangulations and other evidence showing not only was Martin not in Jackson at the time of Mosley’s death, but that it would have been impossible for her to have been there.
Then they headed to Jackson.
“It was a lot of emotions, a lot of crying, a lot of thoughts,” Martin said, “What are my kids going to do, my mom think? I knew it wasn’t me, but still what other steps do we need to take to fix this?”
Jackson police alleged Marvin Willoughby, 25, and Reed had been with Martin the night of the shooting, but didn’t say why they believed it. Martin said she doesn’t know either Willoughby or Reed, and she also didn’t know Mosley.
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Allen offered police Martin’s phone to search plus other information on Martin’s whereabouts on the night Mosley was killed, Allen said.
“They didn’t want any of that. All the GPS locations on her phone, records from C Spire (Wireless) showing where she was at, people who called her,” Allen said. “The detective didn’t even want to look at that.”
Allen said the detective also did not want witness statements or names when he offered them.
“When we go there and we’ve got this information, it wouldn’t have taken them minutes to look at it,” he said. “Anybody who refuses to look at information, in my opinion, doesn’t deserve to be making those types of calls if they won’t even consider information that would exclude someone.”
Allen also pointed out to police the signature for the room at the motel didn’t match Martin’s signature from her driver’s license. Also, the name was spelled wrong.
“I know my client, she’s 30 and knows how to spell her own name,” Allen said.
Allen said he was also told that police didn’t pull the security cameras at the motel beyond the one that showed the shooter. He said a video of the lobby area would have shown that his client was not there to register. Those videos are recorded over after a certain amount of time.
“There’s video all over that place. Whoever got that room, there would have been a clear shot of them registering, and now the video is gone,” Allen said. “They would have had time from when we contacted them to get that video. They didn’t.”
None of the evidence mattered, Allen said, so his client willingly turned herself over to authorities.
The detective “basically told them, ‘Lock her up,'” Martin said. “And there was nothing I could do at that point but go.”
Martin was released from jail Friday after a prosecutor examined the evidence detectives wouldn’t and asked that the charges be remanded, Allen said.
“I was so happy,” Martin said. “I was so happy, I do have three children and them and my mom, that’s my heart. If I could get to them, I’m good.”
Police spokesman Sgt. Roderick Holmes confirmed Martin’s charges were remanded, but not dismissed, meaning that if any evidence comes forward that says Martin was involved with the case she could be arrested again.
“As far as the other information on the investigation, I can’t comment,” Holmes said.
“They’re not going to find anything else,” Allen said. “The fact that they wouldn’t look at our evidence, that they wouldn’t even consider it, is baffling to me.”
Martin now free, has to deal with public perception. People have called her a murderer; some have suggested she was into prostitution.
The impact on her business has been staggering, she said.
“You can’t un-ring that bell,” Allen said. “There are people who will still think she’s involved in these things that she is not. In a rush for judgment and conviction to close the case, there was a total disregard for her and her family.”
Martin now just wants to move on with her life, she said, even thought she faces questions from parents, community members, and the state Department of Health about her license to run a daycare. She said she feels she must plead her case on several levels.
“I don’t think justice prevailed in this particular matter … Now she’s out of money she’ll never get back, and she’s out of time she’ll never get back and that is a horrible and humiliating experience for anyone to have to go through for something they didn’t do,” Allen said. “There’s nothing she could have done to prevent this.”
Martin also said she finds herself constantly worrying about her family’s safety after her good name was drawn into a world she never intended to be part of.
Allen said Martin did the right thing by reaching out for legal help, because there are so many people who can’t afford an attorney or don’t know to call someone when such things happen to them.
“Identity theft can happen to anyone, and just because your life is A-OK today doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way,” Martin said. “It was just an awful situation.”
Follow Harold Gater and Therese Apel on Twitter: @haroldgater and @TRex21
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