Martin to spend rest of life behind bars for 2017 murder

Family of Leon "Bruno" Nelson rejoices after Martin sentence

Mike Baggerman
March 22, 2019 - 1:47 pm

Leon "Bruno" Nelson, who was murdered in July of 2017 by Dydisci Martin. (Photo courtesy of Nelson Family)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Dydisci Martin will spend the rest of his life in prison after he murdered Leon "Bruno" Nelson two summers ago.

Judge Kenneth Case issued the sentence after Martin, 26, was found guilty in January for First Degree Murder. Martin killed his roommate's boyfriend after a dispute over rent payments at a May Street home on July 28, 2017. After shooting Nelson, Martin then hid his body in the basement.

In the courtroom, Nelson's uncle, Brian Bryant, wept as he addressed Martin in the courtroom.

"I hope when you get to jail that you get everything you got coming to you," Bryant said. "You shouldn't have done that to our loved one. It doesn't make sense for an individual to think they have the right to take the life of another individual for no apparent reason."

Martin showed little emotion as he spoke to the judge. He sent his condolences to Nelson's and his family but did not admit his guilt despite a trial jury's unanimous decision to convict him.

"The only thing I'm guilty of is being a bad husband and bad father," Martin said.

"(Nelson) was a good man," Judge Case said as he issued his sentence. "(He) was actually helping this defendant in life and trying to help him find a job. He provided for others and the world is certainly worse off today than it would be if he was still around. I'm sure he's still around in a different place - a better place."

The judge said this case frustrated him so much because it was an act of "cowardice".

"You decided you didn't want to work anymore and you wanted to play video games all day," Case added. "When a good, decent, person told you you have to pay rent, you ambushed him and killed him. That's disgraceful. You haven't owned up to anything with regard to this case, which is in my opinion, equally disgraceful. There is not an ounce of material or anything I've heard that justifies any leniency on your behalf."

Case then issued the life sentence, which led to crying cheers from the crowd of loved ones for Nelson.

Much of this case relied on circumstantial evidence which is a point of contention and led to the case being appealed. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said evidence included the use of a jailhouse informant that required vetting from the DA, Martin's DNA on Nelson's ankles, two gloves found in Martin's car that had both men's DNA on it, evidence that showed Martin searching how to eliminate gunshot residue on hands, and a questionable action by Martin after the shooting.

"(Martin) took out of his own phone a SIM card and he put it in the victim's phone," Flynn said. "Why he would do that I'm not sure but I'm speculating he did it to manipulate the aftermath of the crime."

Because of the circumstantial evidence, defense attorney Joseph Terranova filed an appeal on Friday.

"There was no physical evidence," Terranova said. "No gun was recovered. The district attorney made a point of saying Mr. Nelson was 'ambushed' in the basement. There was absolutely no proof of that. The persuasive proof in the case, apparently, to the jury was a jailhouse snitch from 40 Delaware, who the district attorney gave a dream deal to two days before he testified, which was on the last day of the trial essentially. This is a deeply, deeply flawed individual who has mental health issues and is a drug addict."

Flynn denies giving a "sweetheart deal" to the informant. He said he often reduces pleas for informants and this specific informant only received a one-step reduction.

"He got a deal but not a sweetheart deal," Flynn said while adding that the informant knew what happened before and after the shooting.

Nelson's family remembered "Bruno" for his love for helping others, his devotion to his church, and his smile.

"He was a mentor," Bryant said after sentencing. "He took a lot of younger men, his own sons, nephews, under his guidance. He led them. He was a great mentor. He had them in church....(His smile would) light up a room. He was great."

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