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Witness willingly takes stand in murder trial

KINGWOOD — Only one witness was heard during the Luis Martinez-Otero, murder trial Wednesday.

Martinez is charged with the May 2022 shooting of Zachary Alan Shrout at his home on Veterans Memorial Highway in Terra Alta.

Martinez-Otero’s fiancee Heidi Falkner voluntarily took the stand during final arguments and testified that she was staying with a friend in Masontown. Following the murder, both the prosecuting attorney’s office and defense attorneys attempted to find her but were unable to do so.

“I was hiding from everyone,” Falkner testified. “I was trying to get clean.”

When Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Megan Fields asked Falkner about her previous statements to the state police following the murder, she answered many of them with “I don’t remember.”

When Fields asked Heidi if she recognized a photo taken in her house of the gun Martinez-Otero bought, she said she didn’t recognize that it was her house.

Fields also questioned Falkner about a text message she sent to Shrout the day he was shot, and asked her if she warned Shrout that Martinez-Otero was coming to kill him.

“Why would I do that?” she asked. “Zack invited me to come hang out.”

When Fields asked Falkner if she remembered telling state police on the day Shrout was shot, “maybe if I wouldn’t have made the phone call, nothing would have happened,” she said she didn’t remember that either.

She was also questioned by Brandon Shumaker, attorney for the defense, about May 1, 2022.

“We got up at mid-day. Louis left the house. Zack sent me a couple of messages. I don’t recall what we talked about. We sent Louis’ brother a voice text, we smoked a joint, and I told him to take the dog for a walk,” she said. “He wasn’t acting strange.”

Falkner was the last prosecution witness to give testimony. The defense had no witnesses.

The jury voted to begin deliberation at 9 a.m. today.