By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"Shut up!" Martin yelled on the tape, played during a pretrial hearing last month in Judge Jamie Cummings' Tarrant County Criminal Court No. 5. "Or you are going to get hurt."
As Blake—who refused interview requests through her attorney—got in her car to leave for her parents' house in Plano, Martin ran to the driveway and handed over her smashed, unusable computer.
In his interview with Channel 8, Martin was asked if he touched Blake in any sort of aggressive way, or even touched her at all.
"No," Martin replied. "Not to my...again, you're talking about a year ago...on a night when, in my mind, nothing really happened short of: I was an ass, I busted her laptop and I asked her to leave."
Channel 8's report included a copy of the arrest warrant and photos of Blake's injuries, but fell short of asking Martin the obvious follow-up:
"If you didn't lay a finger on her, how exactly did her hair get pulled out and how'd she get a bruise on her thigh?"
Blake did not call 911 and only approached Southlake police days later when she sought assistance in going to the house to collect her belongings. On July 17 Southlake Municipal Court Judge Carol Montgomery issued the warrant, suspended Martin's concealed-handgun license and enacted a 61-day emergency protective order keeping him at least 200 yards from Blake. Martin was arrested the next morning while working out at Larry North Fitness on Southlake Boulevard.
Martin's Denton-based lawyer, Tim Powers, petitioned Judge Cummings to suppress the warrant and recording because of sloppy police work. After Blake and Martin reconciled, Blake also filed a formal complaint against the police department, alleging that she was "coerced" into pursuing charges against her boyfriend of three years.
At the hearing on Powers' motion more than two weeks before the scheduled July 27, 2009 trial, Martin entered his no contest plea.
Martin answered "yes" when Channel 8 asked if he was innocent, and explained his plea as the "only way out of this for me, and for her family."
For a year Martin's only acknowledgement of the incident came on his Twitter page bio: "Had a big L painted on my scull [sic]."
"Everyone was shocked," O'Malley says. "I know people were quick to crucify him, but if I knew for a fact that he was guilty I would've walked out immediately."
Trenholm said he only saw Martin "put his hands" on another person one time in eight years, calling the object of the anger on that occasion a "computer weasel."
For a guy who made his living off racy bits and made his reputation on good deeds, Martin's arrest caused confusion and consternation amongst his friends, fans, even his enemies.
"I haven't talked to him since his arrest, and I feel really bad about that, but I never know what I would say or how I would say it," says Kunkle, who visited Martin's Southlake home multiple times and went bowling with him and Blake. "In my business, nothing surprises you, but from watching them interact it appeared as though they were truly in love."
Though industry sources—citing the show's fall from No. 2 in the ratings to No. 14—indicate Martin's arrest wasn't a motivating factor in flipping 105.3's format, others aren't so sure.
Says Hunter, "He finally gave his bosses some leverage."
Without his show, Trenholm says Martin stays busy working out, tweaking his Web site and visiting his auto shop every morning. And, of course, cashing his approximately $30,000 checks on the 15th and last of each month.
For doing nothing.
"At gym now. Short HOT blonde on treadmill next to me. May let part of my scrote hang out to taunt her." -- Twitter "tweet" from Martin, May 2, 2009, 10:48 a.m.
Actually, Martin did speak to the Observer for this story. Seeing that it was mannerly to at least introduce myself, I approached him during a break at the car-show concert.
Me: "Russ, Richie Whitt of the Dallas Observer. I know on the advice of your attorney you don't want to be interviewed, but I just wanted to introduce myself as the guy who's writing the story about you."
Russ: "Cool. Well, thanks for coming out."
He is cordial. He is concise. And most of all, he is sweating his ass off.
Almost immediately upon playing, the RMS Band loses power to its instruments. In his first 15 minutes on stage, Martin spews "bitch," "damn" and "bastard."
"Oh, sorry," he says at one point. "Kids."
As the heat escalates, the gathering shrinks. Martin's ensemble valiantly plays through a 45-minute set featuring songs from Loverboy, AC/DC and even the Village People's "Y-M-C-A."
But in the end, the listeners wilt to fewer than 25.
"Russ is fine," Trenholm says. "He's not going out of his mind without the spotlight. He's just biding his time, waiting for the next opportunity that we all know will eventually come around."
Though his representatives could technically talk to stations interested in hiring Martin, most radio experts—alluding to the fact that an ailing economic climate won't support seven-figure salaries for hosts in the foreseeable future—suggest Martin won't be back on the air before his contract expires in 21 months.
"This is Russ' ultimate nightmare," Ryan contends. "Being ignored."