OWATONNA — Emotions ran high Thursday afternoon in a Steele County courtroom as a man, who was supposed to be sentenced in court in late October, finally came before the judge following a nearly two-week search for him by police and the FBI.
Martin Lampkin, 21, made an appearance in court Thursday following his capture last week in Minneapolis. Law enforcement officials had been looking for him since Oct. 29 when they issued an emergency alert for him, calling him “armed and dangerous.”
Lampkin was sentenced Thursday by Judge Joseph Bueltel to four years in prison for first-degree burglary and third-degree assault with substantial bodily harm for the role he played in a May 28 home invasion in Owatonna. Lampkin pleaded guilty to the two charges in September as part of a plea agreement in which other charges connected to that and another home invasion were dropped.
But before the judge handed down the sentence, also agreed to as part of the guilty plea, he allowed Lampkin to make a statement to the court. Lampkin, however, rather than addressing the bench, turned to the gallery and addressed a victim who was seated just three rows behind him. When the victim started to talk back, a woman — identified later by court officials only as Lampkin’s fiancée — began shouting and cursing at the victim.
According to court documents, the incident involving the victim occurred on May 28 in the 1100 block of Rice Street East. When police arrived at the scene of the incident shortly after 8:30 p.m., they found pools of blood and a man with an extremely bloody and swollen face.
The victim told police at the time that he was answering a locked door that someone had knocked on. But before he had a chance to open it, two or three men pushed their way in and punched him in the face. That was all he could remember, he said, because he was knocked out when he was punched. When he awoke, the men who had pushed their way into his house were gone, as was his 65-inch television set, three or four bags of “damaged coins” — each bag estimated to contain up to a couple of thousands of dollars — and $1,700 in cash.
On Thursday, after Judge Bueltel restored order to the courtroom that he described as “a little heated,” the judge allowed the victim to speak.
“This has been going on since Memorial Day, and I am still not right,” the victim said to the court. “I have nightmares and I’m jittery … The left side of my face is still messed up. It’s crazy what they did to me. They beat me damn near to death.”
The judge then gave Lampkin another opportunity to speak, reminding him to address only the court.
“I’m sorry it happened,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason, I guess. It’s a life lesson.”
And with that, the judge sentenced him to 48 months in prison, with credit for 108 days he has already served since his June 1 arrest.
But the outbursts continued outside the courtroom after sentence was imposed. Lampkin’s fiancée was the first to exit the courtroom. Court personnel reported that when the victim and his companion exited the courtroom, Lampkin’s fiancée continued to yell and curse at them. When bailiffs attempted to get her to leave the building, she began to yell and curse at them. At least three times, she fell to the floor, accusing the bailiffs of pushing her to the ground.
Lampkin was scheduled to be sentenced on these charges on Oct. 24, but he failed to appear in court that day. A warrant was issued for his arrest, which eventually led to the manhunt for him.
On Oct. 29, police were waiting for a search warrant to enter a house on North Grove Avenue that they believed Lampkin was in when he — or someone they believed to be Lampkin — emerged from the house. As police approached to apprehend him, he fled on foot and escaped. That night, police issued an emergency warning about Lampkin, which included the description of him as “armed and dangerous.”
Two days later, the FBI joined the search for Lampkin. At the same time, the FBI announced it was assisting the Northfield Police Department in its investigation of a bank robbery that occurred in that town on the previous Saturday.
The FBI has declined to say whether the Owatonna and Northfield cases were connected, and whether they thought of Lampkin as a suspect in the bank robbery.