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2022 Sacramento mass shooting suspect Smiley Martin dies in jail, lawyer says

Suspect in 2022 Sacramento mass shooting dies in prison

Suspect in 2022 Sacramento mass shooting dies in prison


SACRAMENTO – An inmate who died in custody Saturday morning at the Sacramento County Main Jail has been identified by his attorney as Smiley Martin, one of three suspects accused in the 2022 Sacramento mass shooting that left six people dead and 12 injured.

According to a Sacramento County Sheriff's Office report, around 2:15 a.m., officers checked a cell in the 5-East 300 pod and found an inmate unconscious. Officers went in and began first aid, and jail medical staff also assisted.

Sacramento Fire Department crews began life-saving efforts, but the sheriff's office says the inmate was pronounced dead at the jail.

Smiley Martin CDCR
Smiley Martin


Martin's lawyer, Norman Dawson, confirmed his client had died.

“The Public Defender, Amanda Benson, and I have been in contact with Jail Command. They are conducting their investigation. They will likely not release any details until they complete that process,” Dawson said in a statement. “It is very sad that Mr. Martin died fighting to defend his innocence in the preliminary hearing process.”

The sheriff's office did not release Martin's name, but said the inmate has been in custody through April 20, 2022.

The exact cause of death is now under investigation by the Sacramento County Coroner's Office.

Sacramento mass shooting case

Martin was one of three suspects in a mass shooting in Sacramento late on April 2, 2022, that left six people dead. More than a dozen people were also injured in the shooting in the heart of Sacramento's downtown corridor, which authorities described as a gang fight between “multiple rivals.”

Martin, his brother Deandre Martin and a third man, Matula Payton, were charged with murder. All three are already convicted felons.

Court proceedings in the case are ongoing. The three suspects were last produced in court on February 23 for a preliminary hearing.

Just weeks before the shooting, Sacramento County agreed to pay Martin $7,500 as part of a settlement related to a 2018 lawsuit in which he claimed a jail guard was responsible for an attack on him by rival gang members.


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