The family of Martez Haynes is still emotional after learning he was murdered just days into 2019. 27-year-old Justin Watts is accused of fatally shooting Haynes in their work van as they were travelling on Interstate 565 to Huntsville from Birmingham on Thursday.
Watts is still held at the Madison County Jail on a $75,000 bond.
Terrick Haynes didn't believe it at first when he heard his cousin, Martez Haynes, was shot and killed in Huntsville.
"He was a very charismatic guy. He will truly be missed. He was my cousin, but he was like a brother," said Terrick Haynes.
His family thought Martez would be known for his music, not for being the victim of a murder. Martez was a leader in the family.
"He was the oldest cousin. He was always trying to get us and keep us together, like at the events. Our generation, he kept us together," Terrick said.
Terrick first thought Martez committed suicide because that's what was first reported to authorities. When police arrived, they say Watts confessed to them he'd shot Martez and said he wanted a lawyer.
"I'm pretty sure the problem could have been fixed before it got to that," Terrick said.
In all, four men and two women were inside the van during the shooting. They worked for a cleaning business near Birmingham.
Terrick heard that Martez was sleeping before taking his last breath.
"You had to wait until he was sleep? That's not gangster trying to get someone while they're sleep. That's a coward, that's a coward," Terrick said.
Huntsville Police officials say it's possible Martez was shot while asleep, but they haven't confirmed it.
"He didn't have a chance to...He wasn't going to let you do it, if he was up. He would have did something and gotten the gun off the dude. He didn't have a chance to defend himself. That's what's killing me," Terrick said.
Terrick said Martez was a husband, brother and step father. His personality and music videos brought a smile to people's faces in Birmingham.
"Cherish your people. Cherish the ones you love because you never know when you're going to lose them, man. Like, you see them and love them everyday," Terrick said.
Martez died at Huntsville Hospital after being treated for a gunshot wound to his head. This was Huntsville's first murder of 2019.
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