1987 stabbing victim's sister plans to attend Breakiron's retrial

| Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Twenty-four years ago, Linda Angel pledged to her dying father that the man accused of her sister's murder would pay with his own life.

“He made me promise,” Angel, 57, of North Union said on Friday. The late Thomas W. Martin told her, “You promise me that you see him pay.”

Mark David Breakiron, 51, was convicted in 1988 of the March 24, 1987, stabbing death of Angel's sister, Saundra Marie Martin.

The jury sentenced him to death, but he won a new trial when a federal judge ruled in May 2011 that prosecutors withheld evidence about a jailhouse snitch that could have been used to impeach his testimony against Breakiron.

“I feel that I should never have to look at him again,” Angel said. “He has smirked at me in court. He's laughed at me. It's ridiculous, the appeals this man has had, and all the money that has been wasted on this man.”

The retrial was scheduled to begin next month before Fayette County Judge Steve Leskinen, but that could be delayed by another appeal.

Angel said she will attend the retrial, as she has done for numerous appeal hearings held for the man she calls the “monster.”

The retrial likely will be delayed because Breakiron's attorney, Sam Davis, said on Friday he will appeal a recent Superior Court decision to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

At issue is whether prosecutors can ask another jury to sentence Breakiron to death because he tortured Martin and the killing came during the course of a robbery.

Martin worked as a waitress at Shenanigan's Lounge in German Township to earn money and go to school to become a dental hygienist.

She was closing the bar for the night when Breakiron attacked her, took her purse and the bar's receipts and drove her to his grandparents' house in South Union, where he tortured and killed her, according to police.

In 1988, jailhouse informant Ellis Price testified that Breakiron told him he waited in a bathroom at the bar for the other patrons to leave before he attacked Martin with an ashtray and knife, dragged her to his truck, drove her to the house and “finished her off,” according to court records.

Police found Martin's body buried in the woods in nearby Lick Hollow.

Breakiron stabbed the victim 20 times, police said.

Angel said her sister's throat was slit five times, every bone in the left side of her face was broken and one ear was hacked off.

Angel said she can't forgive herself for not going to see her sister that night. She was driving to the lounge when, for reasons she has never understood, she pulled over, waited out a rainstorm and then turned around and went home, she said.

“I sat there while my sister was being murdered,” Angel said. “I felt so guilty, but people have told me God saved me.”

The next day, Angel learned her sister was missing. Angel knew something was wrong when she saw bloody drag marks near her sister's car, still parked outside the lounge.

Angel went to Breakiron's grandparents' house after she heard that police were searching there.

“I ran up onto the porch,” she said, but police stopped her from entering. Still, she saw bloody fingerprints and felt her sister's presence.

“I could see her fingerprints, where she grabbed all around the door, where she was trying to keep him from taking her into the house,” Angel said. “She was awake at that house, where he tortured her.”

Angel said she feels compelled to attend the retrial to ensure Breakiron is not set free.

“He's a predator,” Angel said. “He should never get out of jail because he will hurt someone else.

“He did what you see in horror movies, but he looks like a normal human being,” Angel said. “He could go free and do that to another person. I feel I need to protect people from a person like that. He's a monster.”

Breakiron's case will be retried by the state attorney general's office. Spokesman Dennis Fisher declined comment.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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