Former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin will have to stand trial on criminal charges after a threatening post he made on Instagram last year, a Los Angeles judge ruled Thursday.
Martin, who played tackle for the Dolphins in 2012 and 2013, posted a photograph last year of a shotgun and ammunition with a caption reading, “When you’re a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge.” He tagged four accounts belonging to former Miami teammates Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, the Dolphins and Harvard-Westlake, the Studio City, California, high school from which Martin graduated in 2008. The school shut down for the day when Martin posted the message and Incognito fled to meet with an FBI agent at a safe house about two hours north of Scottsdale, Arizona.
The social media post led to four felony counts of making criminal threats, although the Los Angeles Times reported one charge was dropped Wednesday when Pouncey said he was not concerned about the post.
Winston McKesson, Martin’s lawyer, argued the post wasn’t specific enough to be a threat and told the Times it was a “cry for help.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Los Angeles County Superior Judge Shellie Samuels, however, disagreed, the New York Daily News reported.
“It does say suicide or revenge,” Samuels said. “That does sound equivocal on its face. However, on the photo, there are 19 shells. Suicide would take one shot. Nineteen shells is a mass shooting, killing more than one person, revenge. I think that’s unequivocal enough [under the law] to be a criminal threat.”
Martin played his final season with Miami in 2013 after he accused Incognito and Pouncey, two fellow offensive linemen, of bullying him. An ensuing NFL investigation led to an eight-game suspension for Incognito and Martin never played for the Dolphins again. A two-time All-American for the Stanford Cardinal, Martin played one more season with the San Francisco 49ers before retiring, citing a back injury and mental-health issues, including multiple suicide attempts.
Nearly three years later, Martin posted the Instagram message and was detained after trying to check himself into a hospital. He was later arrested and pleaded not guilty.
Martin is next due in court Jan. 30.