The paperwork was signed, her belongings were stuffed into a plastic bag, and then, finally, it was time. She was guided down a long hallway. She stepped through a metal detector. A heavy door was pushed open, and Alexis Martin walked out of prison.
“Where am I going?” she asked her lawyers, hesitating on the sidewalk. It was April of 2020, the pandemic’s early days, when Ohio’s governor was going on television every afternoon to talk about shutdowns and masks and case counts — until the news conference when he had something else to announce. He was granting the release of a 22-year-old incarcerated woman.
“She was 15 years of age when she committed the crime,” Mike DeWine explained. “She is a child sex trafficking survivor.”
He was echoing what Alexis’s defenders had been arguing since the night in 2013 when the biracial 10th-grader was involved in a robbery that turned into a murder.
Prosecutors knew Alexis wasn’t in the room when the shots were fired, maiming one man and killing another. They still charged her with murder and demanded that she be tried as an adult, saying she was the one who led the robbers into the house of Angelo Kerney.
But as her case moved through the criminal justice system, little attention was paid to how the 15-year-old girl knew the 36-year-old man in the first place. Or what witnesses said he was doing to her. Or why she called him “Dad.”
A judge said Alexis was “working” for Kerney’s “escort” business and sentenced her to decades in prison.