FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – She told him to look at her face.

Tears filled her eyes. They were on her cheeks.

Sheila Martin told the man to look, and to look close.

“Look at it good,” she said. “When you sleep, I hope you see my face, because then you’ll see her face. We look alike.”

A torrent of anger, sadness and despair spilled out of Sheila Martin and her family Friday, all of it in front of the man who drove a car into her sister’s home just before Christmas in 2020, killing her.

An Allen Superior Court judge sentenced 31-year-old Marquel Bright to 10 years in prison – eight of it to be served behind bars, two of it to be suspended and served on probation – during a hearing attended by Gwendolyn Martin’s family.

Bright

The 63-year-old had been sleeping in her bed when a vehicle crashed through her McClellan Street home, pinning her underneath. She died from blunt force injuries to her chest, the Allen County Coroner ruled at the time.

Using neighborhood surveillance video and reconstruction techniques, Fort Wayne police determined the car had been speeding through the neighborhood when it hit another car, then a porch and slammed through Martin’s home.

Bright and a woman, later identified as Ashley Fromm, were seen climbing out of the back of the vehicle – it had been wedged into Martin’s home so tightly they could not open the doors.

Neighbors tried to stop them but Bright punched one and the duo ran.

For nearly a year they hid in Indianapolis, according to court testimony, until Bright supposedly began bragging online about a job he landed.

Prosecutors noted that the family were tenacious in providing information or tips they heard about Bright’s whereabouts, as was the public, and eventually the U.S. Marshals cornered him and brought him back to Fort Wayne.

“Who knows what would’ve happened if you stayed?” Sheila Martin told Bright on Friday. “Why didn’t you stay and help my sister?”

Gwendolyn Martin was described as the rock of her family.

She helped Sheila take care of their mother, who is now depressed that one of her children is gone. She worked at a local YMCA and opened it every morning and was heavily involved in her church.

Martin never knew a stranger, her family said, and tried to help anyone in need.

The Rev. Bill McGill, a widely known activist and senior pastor at Imani Baptist Temple, appeared in court to read a poem in Martin’s honor.

“Before she passed, I missed her birthday,” said Martin’s daughter, Tanesha Martin. “I never knew I’d never get to spend another birthday with my Momma. Nothing is the same.”

“This is not fair. Eight years is nothing compared to my Momma,” she said.

For his part, Bright apologized in court, saying he was sorry for what happened.

“I don’t know what else I can say,” Bright added.

After being arrested Bright eventually pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull accepted the deal, and along with the prison sentenced ordered Bright’s driver’s license suspended for 12 years.

He was also ordered to pay over $30,000 in restitution.