Everything's relative

It’s not often that a prison term of almost two years can be called meaningless but, really, that the least of Nasuil Martinez’s problems.

Regardless of how good his behavior, Martinez, 21, is unlikely to get out of prison any time this decade, let alone two years.

Nasuil Martinez , 20, could be jailed for life.

Martinez was convicted today by a Philadelphia judge of two weapons charges involving a homemade knife found stashed in a wrist brace during an April 11 prison search before being bused to Center City for a court appearance.

Municipal Court Judge Charles Hayden immediately sentenced Martinez, 21, to 3 to 23 months in prison.

But the reason Martinez was in prison to start with were a pending cases involving a murder and two encounters with police last December. In the first, Martinez allegedly shot and wounded a pursuing Philadelphia police officer before escaping. Twelve days later, cornered by a SWAT team in the basement of his girlfriend’s Summerdale house, Martinez opened fire, shooting at five officers and hitting two who were uninjured only because of their body armor.

“He will never get out of prison,” predicted Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson.

At the trial before Hayden, Gilson’s only witness was Philadelphia deputy sheriff Arthur Evans, who was assigned to transport Martinez from the city’s Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility to the Criminal Justice Center in Center City for hearings on domestic violence and drug possession charges.

Evans testified that when he inspected Martinez’s wrist brace he noticed it was rigid. Inside was a metal stay that had been sharpened to a knife-point.

Defense attorney Constance Clark argued that there was no evidence Martinez intended to use the homemade knife – known among prisoners as a “shank,” “shiv,” or “whack” – as a weapon. She said the metal strip could have been part of the wrist brace.

Hayden, however, did not even let Gilson make a counter-argument and found Martinez guilty of possession of an instrument of crime and possession of a weapon of escape.