Crime

A man was shot, a gun was pointed at her mom. What she did next may have saved a life, cops say

Merced Police investigate homicide, home invasion in Merced

The Merced Police Department is investigating a homicide and home invasion in the 400 block of Tucolay Court in Merced, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.
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The Merced Police Department is investigating a homicide and home invasion in the 400 block of Tucolay Court in Merced, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.

Lajawn Trumaine Cokley was shot to death, allegedly by James Collins Martin, after the victim answered the doorbell at his south Merced home, according to new details revealed in investigation reports.

Before he died, Cokley told police Martin was responsible for the shooting, using a nickname for Martin to identify him, the reports state.

Also, quick thinking by one of the other residents at the home likely saved another life when they were threatened at gunpoint, police said.

Police say Martin was one of three individuals who invaded the home in the 400 block of Tucolay Court on Jan. 25.

The other two suspects haven’t been arrested, Merced Police Sgt. Rey Alvarez said.

James Martin, 28, of LA.jpg
James Martin, 28, of Los Angeles Merced County Sheriff's Office

Cokley, his girlfriend, and two of the girlfriend’s children were sleeping or getting ready to sleep in the home the night of Jan. 24 when Cokley is believed to have received a call from an individual, according to the reports.

Cokley then went to the front door and opened it to greet multiple individuals. A “tussling” occurred before the other residents of the home heard what sounded like gunshots, the reports state.

Cokley’s girlfriend tried to bar the door to a bedroom, but the three people pushed the door open, brandished a gun and asked her where the “money,” “weed” and “jewelry” were, according to reports.

Cokley’s girlfriend tried to explain there wasn’t any cash, the reports state.

That’s when her adult daughter came into the room and told the suspects about a safe in the house, according to the reports.

The suspects fled the home after grabbing the locked safe, the residents told investigators.

However, police said, the safe was empty and the thieves got nothing.

The daughter’s quick actions likely saved her mother’s life, detectives said.

“I told (the girlfriend) that I thought it was very smart of (her daughter) to tell the suspects to grab the safe,” Merced Detective Moses Nelson states in his report. “(The girlfriend) agreed with me and (she) said that ‘they wanted to shoot me.’”

The daughter called 9-1-1, reports state. And when officers arrived, they found Cokley lying on the ground wounded.

MER_AKHomeInvasionHomicide1 (2)
The Merced Police Department investigates the scene of a homicide and home invasion in the 400 block of Tucolay Court in Merced, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. According to Lt. Jay Struble, a 34-year-old man died of injuries consistent with a gunshot wound, after multiple people entered the home early Friday morning. Police said the suspects stole items from the residence before fleeing the area. Andrew Kuhn akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

As officers gave him first aid, they asked Cokley who shot him. Cokley gave them a nickname associated with Martin, who officers knew lived in Oakland and was part of a “crew” that came from the Bay Area.

MER_AKHomeInvasionHomicide1
The Merced Police Department investigates the scene of a homicide and home invasion in the 400 block of Tucolay Court in Merced, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. According to Lt. Jay Struble, a 34-year-old man died of injuries consistent with a gunshot wound, after multiple people entered the home early Friday morning. Police said the suspects stole items from the residence before fleeing the area. Andrew Kuhn akuhn@mercedsun-star.com

Later in the day, detectives found out Martin was in the Vallejo area, according to reports.

A vehicle pursuit through Vallejo, San Pablo, Emeryville and Oakland ended in a crash, and Martin was arrested, the reports state.

Martin, who was in custody on $1.2 million bond, is scheduled to enter a plea to felony murder and robbery charges Thursday, according to court records.

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