Crime and Courts

‘Absolutely preventable': Union for Maryland parole agents says homicide could have been avoided

Union says agents had concerns about suspect and the safety of the job

NBC Universal, Inc.

The union representing parole agents in Maryland says the killing of an agent was avoidable and agents' concerns about the homicide suspect were ignored.

Agent Davis Martinez was doing a monthly check-in at the home of convicted sex offender Emanuel Sewell when Martinez was killed.

“Let’s be clear: This tragedy was preventable, absolutely preventable,” American Federation of State, County and Municipal (AFSCME) Maryland Council 3 President Patrick Moran said.

At a union rally in Baltimore County, members of AFSCME called for change and accountability.

“We are sad, we are angry and we are frustrated,” AFSCME Local 3661 President Rayneika Robinson said.

The union said some agents were afraid of Sewell, who was released in 2021 after serving decades in prison for breaking into a man’s apartment and raping him at knifepoint in 1996. Agents said he acted unhinged.

Martinez volunteered for the May 31 visit at Sewell’s Chevy Chase apartment because the assigned agent was scared, the union said.

“We’re here today because people did not listen and one of our brothers has fallen,” Moran said.

Before Martinez’s death, agents made multiple attempts in the past year to have their safety concerns addressed, including fears about working alone, the union said. It claims department leadership dismissed the demands until it was too late.

“Time and time again, our concerns were ignored,” Robinson said.

Martinez suffered multiple blunt force and stabbing injuries and was found wrapped in plastic bags under a bed in Sewell’s apartment, investigators said.

“It should not have taken this tragedy for our concerns to finally be heard,” Robinson said.

The union has demanded that Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Carolyn Scruggs step down. The governor appointed her in January 2023.

Public Safety and Corrections released a statement saying it “is committed to working closely with the union to bring about meaningful change and has taken immediate and decisive action to reassess and enhance our current policies and practices.”

The union provided a list of safety demands, including making all home visits virtual until a home visit policy is negotiated with the union.

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services told the I-Team it’s reassessing its equipment and policies, including home visits. The agency said it’s reviewing a process for identifying potentially high-risk clients and discussing assigning additional agents to those clients.

Suspect also was on probation when he committed 1996 rape, records show

Investigative Reporter Tracee Wilkins and the News4 I-Team have been digging into court records and the troubling past of the suspect in the brutal slaying of a Maryland parole agent.

Court records show the Martinez homicide is at least the second time Sewell has been accused of a violent crime while still under supervision of the state.

He was on probation for a 1995 armed robbery charge when he committed the sex offense in Gaithersburg in 1996.

Court documents show Sewell pleaded guilty in that case to first-degree burglary, first-degree sexual offense, and robbery with a dangerous or deadly weapon.

According to court records, Sewell entered a stranger's home in the middle of the night through an opened window, woke him up with a knife to his throat and hogtied him using items he had been collecting in the man's apartment. Then he raped him.

 According to court records, he told the man he had been watching him for some time and that he shouldn't leave his doors and windows unlocked. He warned that if the victim reported the crime to police, he would return.

Records show Sewell admitted to using a knife in that crime, just as he is now accused of in the Martinez homicide.

In both cases, Sewell is accused of stealing the victims' vehicles.

Court records also reveal that while incarcerated, Sewell was accused of threatening to kill correctional officers, which he denied in handwritten letters reviewed by the News4 I-Team.

“This offender was in prison, I believe, for over 20 years, and then he came out and he was still hostile to the fact that he was being held accountable for his actions, and that's what our members are out there doing — making sure that people are doing what they are supposed to be doing in order to move their life forward, and he did not appreciate that,” Moran said.

Officials initially reported Sewell was a registered sex offender, but the I-Team has found that he actually was not registered despite his conviction for rape. One official familiar with Maryland state law said he was not required to register at the time he was convicted.

Contact Us