As primary nears, new information emerges on Martin's DUI history

By Matt Porter

September 6, 2013 Updated Oct 20, 2014 at 6:12 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) When Kirk Martin was asked Tuesday about whether he had other incidents involving driving under the influence, he did not answer except to refer to a 2006 arrest.

But a Freedom of Information Law request shows Martin, a candidate in the Republican primary for the Tioga County District Attorney, had at least two prior incidents with the law.

A 2006 letter to Martin from then-District Attorney Gerald Keene noted two separate incidents where Martin was stopped by police.

Keene said Martin was stopped by Pennsylvania State Police, although he did not mention where or when.

An initial search of the Pennsylvania Unified Courts system did not show an incident involving Kirk Martin.

He also noted in the letter Martin was pulled over in September 2005 in Owego on a suspected alcohol-related offense, but wasn't arrested and let go.

The Owego incident was just six months prior to his accident in February, when he pleaded guilty to DWAI, according to the letter.

Martin resigned his position as assistant district attorney at Keene's request.

Martin declined to comment about the incidents prior to his 2006 arrest, citing unsubstantiated claims pushed to the media just before the election.

He said he is a changed man since 2006 and has stopped drinking.

He said if he were elected district attorney, the experience would shape how he would handle DWI and DWAI cases in the county.

"I was able to see first-hand, I think, the dangers that driving while ability impaired-type charges can [have]," Martin said. "The problems and the dangers of doing that. And it's something I take very seriously, and I hope people learn from my lessons and my mistakes."

Martin said he wants to take the county's top legal job to tackle elder abuse and drug crimes.

He also said he'd advocate for the repeal of the New York SAFE Act.

"I think it's bad law," he said. "I think it takes away valuable criminal resources."

Drug crime is a priority for Martin's two opponents as well.

Current Tioga County assistant district attorney Adam Schumacher said more strict penalties should be brought against drug offenders.

"Bath salts, methamphetamine, I see that everyday," Schumacher said. "That would be the No. 1 thing on my list."

He also wants to target domestic violence crime by creating programs to educate teens early.

"I think if you can focus on trying to educate, make people aware of that," Schumacher said, "Then maybe we can start to send that curve in a different direction."

Domestic violence is also the top concern for acting District Attorney Irene Graven, the third candidate in the primary race.

"I think one of the most important things is to work with our victims advocacy organization who help victims of domestic violence," Graven said. "They really are our front person to identify what their needs are."

As a lead prosecutor for the Cal Harris murder case, Graven said she's better prepared than her opponents to handle the high-profile trial.

"I've worked on the case this past year. I feel I'm best prepared to continue to work on that case," she said.

The three who oppose each other in this race once served together as assistant DAs.

The primary election is Tuesday.

Note: A prior version of this story inaccurately reported Kirk Martin's criminal history.

Martin pleaded guilty to DWAI in 2006 and resigned his position as assistant district attorney.

The story also misrepresented total contributions and expenses for all three candidates based on campaign finance forms from the New York Board of Elections.

According to the state:

Irene Graven has raised $11,439 and her expenses total $19,856.

Kirk Martin has raised $11,518 and his expenses total $46,747.

Adam Schumacher has raised $11,121 and his expenses total $6,747.

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