WAAY 31 I-TEAM: Madison Co. judge refuses to send killer to prison despite probation violation

Martin Wayne Hicks Jr. was found guilty of multiple charges in Marshall County in August. This week, a judge sentenced him to 45 days of work release for violating his probation.

Posted: Dec 5, 2019 7:31 PM
Updated: May 4, 2021 11:23 AM

Two families are looking for answers after Martin Wayne Hicks Jr. violated his probation but was not sent to a state prison to serve his 10 year prison sentence.

This week, a judge sentenced him to 45 days of work release.

It's a story the WAAY 31 I-Team spent the past year following. (Tap here and here to read more)

Hicks was found guilty of negligent homicide after he ran over his girlfriend, killing her, in 2016 while under the influence of meth. He was given a suspended sentence as long as he followed the terms of his probation.

The Madison County District Attorney's office told WAAY 31 in December 2018 that Hicks should be sent to prison for violating his probation terms. However, Prosecutors said the the judge decided he shouldn't be sent to prison and there is nothing they can do about it.

Terry Steelman said he's confused as to why his niece, Jamie Varvel's, killer is not headed to state prison after hurting another woman and her child last year.

“It’s pretty much a smack in the face for all of us," Steelman said.

He said he was promised by the District Attorney's office Hicks was headed to prison.

"We want to know why there was any decision that needed to be made. He broke his probation and there should no be decision in that he should go to jail for the original sentence. Period," he said.

Hicks was found guilty in Marshall County in August on three charges after he assaulted his now ex-girlfriend and her child last December.

The judge on the case gave him 2 years of unsupervised probation, and a suspended jail sentence.

"There seems to be a disconnect between crime and punishment, and I’m not sure why that is," Steelman said.

Wednesday, Hicks had a probation revocation hearing at the Madison County Courthouse.

The judge on the case, James Smith, sentenced him to 45 days of work release.

"If they slap him on the wrist, then what’s to stop him from doing that again?," he said.

Hicks now ex-girlfriend said she testified at Wednesday’s hearing, but claims the judge didn’t believe the charges were serious enough to send Hicks to prison.

“Why would a victim put herself through that when a judge is allowed to let him go?" he said.

Steelman thinks the latest hearing points out flaws in the legal system.

“I just thought it was ridiculous. I just wanted to be in a room with the judge with the DA and say why? Why is that allowable?," he said.

WAAY 31 called and tried to speak with Judge Smith and was told he was out sick.

His assistant told us he doesn't talk to the media and he will be in trial all next week.

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