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Smiley Martin: Suspect in 2022 Sacramento mass shooting has died in custody, attorney says

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Smiley Martin appears in Sacramento County Superior Court on April 22, 2022.


A 29-year-old man who was being held on charges connected to a 2022 mass shooting that left 6 people dead and 12 injured in Sacramento, California, died in jail over the weekend, his attorney told CNN.

The suspect, Smiley Martin, was facing a murder charge, according to CNN affiliate KCRA. He was also charged with two felony firearms possession counts related to the April 2022 shooting that police say involved at least five shooters and left behind a chaotic crime scene littered with more than 100 shell casings. Two other people, including Martin’s brother, were also arrested in connection with the incident.

Martin’s attorney, Norman Dawson, said he was alerted of his death early Saturday.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office announced on social media that a 29-year-old man had been found unresponsive in his cell around 2:15 a.m. Saturday, but despite life-saving efforts was ultimately pronounced dead. Though the agency did not name Martin as the inmate, it said the man had been in custody since Martin’s arrest date of April 20, 2022.

The sheriff’s office said it will investigate the death and the cause of death will be determined by the county coroner’s office.

Dawson said his legal team is “deeply saddened” by Martin’s unexpected death. “It is most tragic that Mr. Martin passed away, fighting to defend his innocence in the preliminary hearing process,” Dawson said.

“Mr. Martin’s defense team sends our deepest condolences to his family, and we are here to support the family going forward.”

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

A memorial grew near the site of the late-night shooting in April 2022.

Following the downtown Sacramento shooting, investigators said they believed at least five shooters from two groups exchanged gunfire, leading them to believe it was connected to gang violence.

Sacramento Police Sgt. Zach Eaton did not elaborate on the suspects’ gang affiliations at the time.

Martin was found at the scene of the shooting with serious gunshot injuries and taken to a local hospital, authorities said. His brother, Dandrae Martin, was also among the injured and is still in jail on charges of murder and possession of a firearm as a felon, according to jail records.

CNN’s Elizabeth Wolfe contributed to this report.

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