SAGINAW, MI — A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged in the killings of two younger men outside a Saginaw gas station.
Saginaw County District Judge M. Randall Jurrens on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 29, arraigned Roderick D. Barnes Jr. on two counts of open murder, three counts of second-offense felony firearm, and single counts of felon in possession of a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon. Open murder contains both first- and second-degree murder, both life offenses, though a conviction of first-degree murder comes with a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole.
Defense attorney John van Benschoten, appearing via Zoom for purposes of arraignment, told the judge that Barnes is pleading not guilty. He said Barnes is a lifelong resident of the Saginaw area and currently lives with his mother. Barnes was employed before the COVID-19 pandemic hit but was laid off amid it.
Van Benschoten asked for a reasonable bond. Jurrens denied granting Barnes bond.
Prosecutors have confirmed Barnes’ charges stem from the deaths of 19-year-old Tony D. Martin and 22-year-old Ricky H. Morgan. Prosecutors issued charges against Barnes on Sept. 18.
Saginaw Police Detective Sgt. Matthew Gerow said Barnes turned himself in at the Saginaw County Jail on Monday, Sept. 28.
Shortly before 2:30 a.m. on July 19, police responded to the parking lot of the Sunoco gas station at 1944 E. Genesee St. for a reported shooting.
Officers arrived to find Martin and Morgan suffering from gunshot wounds. Responders pronounced Martin deceased at the scene. Morgan was taken via ambulance to an area hospital, where he subsequently died.
A 25-year-old woman who was also at the scene suffered a gunshot wound to her arm. She showed up at a local hospital for treatment and was released.
Gerow said Martin and Morgan were at the gas station together to buy some items when they encountered Barnes. A dispute ensued and Barnes shot the two younger men, police allege.
Martin was a former Saginaw High School standout who set a state long-jump record in 2019. He later attended Michigan State University and ran on its track team, but was only able to compete in the winter indoor season at MSU because the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the Spartans’ spring outdoor season. He jumped 6.66 meters (21 feet, 10 inches) in long jump for the Spartans and posted times of 6.92 seconds in the 60-meter dash and 22.44 in the 200.
“Tony dedicated his life to building his own legacy,” states his obituary. “He played sports at an early age, starting with indoor hockey, basketball, soccer, and football. He played freshman football for Arthur Hill before transferring to Saginaw High. He played the last three years of football and found his true passion in track and field.”
Martin blossomed on the track field. He was named two-time Saginaw County MVP, five-time state champion, three-time junior Olympic qualifier, and is a Saginaw High School Hall of Fame member, his obituary states. “The record he was most proud of was breaking the 45-year-old Saginaw High School Long Jump record before he broke it again by breaking the State of Michigan record,” his obituary continues. “Tony’s determination and hard work allowed him to become an athlete on the track team for Michigan State Spartans.”
Martin was known for his “magnetic personality with a million-dollar smile that could make anyone happy,” the obituary continues. “Even when not speaking, his aura and presence filled the room. He was a trendsetter with his unique sense of fashion and style. Tony was family centered and a very loved father, son, brother, and cousin. He touched many lives in his short time with us and his legend and legacy will live far beyond him.”
Morgan is survived by three children.
“Ricky was a devoted father and any free time he had was spent with his three children,” his obituary states. “He wanted a better life for himself and his kids and had begun making plans to move on to better opportunities. Even though he only lived for twenty-two short years, his presence has left a lasting impact.”
Morgan graduated from Arthur Hill High School in 2016.
“He enjoyed traveling and playing basketball recreationally and was a huge fan of the NBA,” his obituary continues. “Ricky received Christ at an early age and was a member of New Generation Church. During his childhood and adolescent years, he was active in the children and youth ministry.”
Barnes’ next court date is pending.