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Brother pleads guilty to role in sister's 1998 death

One of the two Clearwater County brothers accused of killing their sister in 1998 has pleaded guilty to assisting in the disposal of his sister's remains.

Todd Walter Martin, 36, of Fosston, pleaded guilty Jan. 5 to a felony charge of aiding an offender.

Todd and his brother, Troy Martin, 39, of Bagley, were originally charged with aiding and abetting manslaughter in the second degree. They also faced a charge of second-degree murder, which carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.

Under the second-degree murder charges, the brothers were accused of unintentionally causing their sister's death while holding her against her will.

Todd Martin originally reported his sister, Leisa Martin, 31, missing on the evening of Oct. 28, 1998. He told authorities he last saw her walk away from their rural Bagley home early that morning. Three days later, hunters found her body near Roy Lake in Mahnomen County.

The case remained open until January 2010, when Todd Martin was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and assaulting a deputy. During an interview, he told officers he and his brother were arguing with their sister in the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 1998, and restrained her, causing her to pass out.

Clearwater County Attorney Richard Mollin said sometimes cases of this nature can take a long time to resolve or progress.

"Neither Todd Martin nor his brother had revealed any potential incriminatory information until 2010," Mollin said Tuesday. "So, for the period from her death to 2010, the investigation was stalled because they were not providing information that would allow us to proceed."

The court has ordered a pre-sentence investigation on the matter involving Todd Martin, Mollin said.

He suspects Todd Martin will not be sentenced until after his brother Troy Martin goes to trial.

Troy Martin's case is unresolved. He faces charges of second-degree murder, second-degree aiding and abetting manslaughter, aiding an offender and interfering with a dead body-concealing evidence.

A pre-trial is set for April 4, with a jury trial scheduled for April 30.