Jah-Maine Martin begins classes at Horry-Georgetown Technical College on Wednesday.
That’s the first step in the renewal of his pursuit of a college degree and place on a college football team.
The former Conway High and Coastal Carolina University running back has had gun possession charges from the summer dismissed, but he said he has been expelled from Coastal Carolina and is now looking to find a school and football program that will give him another chance.
“It’s very disappointing. I feel I let a lot of people down,” Martin said. “I want everybody to know it’s not over. … I still work out every day, I’m still eating right, I’m still doing everything I’ve got to do because when I get my shot I’m going to take full advantage of it.
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“I’ve been talking to a couple schools and I’m going to college. I’m going to play some ball somewhere. It’s a mistake. I learned from it.”
Martin was arrested July 10 and charged with unlawful carrying of a pistol and possession of a stolen pistol. Those charges were dismissed on Aug. 25.
He was the driver of a Cadillac with five occupants and was pulled over for speeding. Two 9-mm handguns were found in the back seat behind Martin under a T-shirt, along with two 9-mm magazines and 16 9 mm rounds. One of the guns was reported stolen from a Conway location.
After no one claimed the firearms, all five were arrested and charged with unlawful carry and possession of a firearm.
This man lost an awful lot over a mistake that quite frankly I don’t know he could have controlled. We have a young man who I think will go on to do great things not only with football but also as a person.”
Martin’s attorney Bert von Herrmann
Martin explained the circumstances and events of July 10 to The Sun News.
He said he had his cousin, Jerrone Bellamy, at his on-campus student housing apartment overnight because he was trying to keep him away from his neighborhood in Conway, which Martin said has a high incidence of crime and violence.
“I’m just trying to keep him out of trouble,” Martin said. “I’ve learned I can’t help everybody like that. I have to help myself before I can help somebody else so I have to make sure I’m good. Everybody’s not going to look out for me so I have to look out for myself. That’s what I have to do. I’m just going to keep my head up and keep moving forward.”
Martin said an acquaintance, Dae’Shaun Shammond Jacquis Page, was also at the house, and Quindon Shyheim Burroughs and Dorein Vereen were invited to the apartment by his brother or Page.
“I don’t hang with them boys that was there,” Martin said. “My cousin was over there and they invited them over there. I don’t really know them like that. I had never really had a one-on-one conversation with them before that day. I knew of them, I didn’t know them.”
Martin said he went to workouts for football in the morning, and when he returned Burroughs and Vereen were still at the apartment because their ride home was unavailable. So Martin said he offered to drive them home and all five got in his car.
Martin and his cousin were in the front seat – Martin said his cousin was asleep at the time of the traffic stop – and the other three were in the back seat. Martin said he was unaware of any guns in the car.
According to a police report, Martin was pulled over for speeding on S.C. 544 and came to a stop in the parking lot of Brooks Stadium on the CCU campus. He was additionally issued a citation for speeding and operating a vehicle without license in possession.
Martin allowed his car to be searched, and he corroborated the police report’s claim that Coastal Carolina officers asked to search the car because subjects who were known to carry weapons illegally were in the vehicle.
The guns were found where Page was sitting, according to the police report.
“I didn’t know the guns were in there,” Martin said. “… Everybody knew they weren’t my guns.”
Page ran across University Boulevard after being patted down for weapons and was chased and arrested by the Coastal Carolina officers near 544, the police report states. The vehicle was searched shortly thereafter.
Vereen and Page have past convictions, according to Horry County court records.
Vereen pleaded guilty to pointing and presenting firearms at a person in October 2016 and was found guilty in a bench trial in March on three charges: possessing 28 grams (1 ounce) or less of marijuana or 10 grams or less of hash, resisting arrest and trespassing.
Page was found guilty in a bench trial in January 2016 of receiving stolen goods of $1,000 or less, and pleaded guilty in August 2016 to third-degree burglary.
Bellamy’s gun charges from the July 10 traffic stop were dismissed on Sept. 14, and the weapons charges of the other three defendants are still pending, according to court records.
“It’s really just me trying to help everybody. It wasn’t me hanging with thugs, it’s not like that, it’s not about that,” Martin said. “… I take responsibility for it. It is what it is. It happened, it’s over with and can’t nothing be done about it. So there’s no need to pout about it. You might as well keep going forward.”
Martin said he was expelled from Coastal Carolina and lost an appeal to be reinstated as a student, with the university citing student code of conduct violations and student housing violations, according to Martin. Coastal Carolina spokesperson Martha Hunn said the university is unable to discuss specific student disciplinary cases.
Martin was an accounting major with a minor in business management at CCU. He completed two semesters at CCU in addition to summer classes both before and after his freshman year, and hopes to transfer after the current semester at HGTC.
Martin said he understands why he was expelled from Coastal but wishes the school would have been more expedient with its decision. “At the end of the day if they knew they were going to have to kick me out of school, they should have told me that up front so then maybe I could have been looking for somewhere else to go and I wouldn’t be in this situation right now,” Martin said.
Martin showed promise last season as a freshman on the CCU football team, gaining 175 yards on 27 carries for an impressive 6.3 yards per carry and scoring two touchdowns. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons at Conway High.
“I felt like Coastal was the place because it was a high level of football right here at home, it’s right near by the beach, you can’t get any better than that,” Martin said.
Martin grew up in Conway, left the area with his mother following fourth grade, and returned during his sophomore year of high school to spend time with his cousin Martwain Bellamy-Gregg, who had been diagnosed with leukemia.
Martin wore No 30 at Conway High as a tribute to Bellamy-Gregg, who wore that number on the Conway football team. Bellamy-Gregg died in July 2015.
He’ll now likely be leaving the area again to embark on the next chapter of his life.
“I’m open to everywhere,” Martin said. “They don’t have to give me another chance so who am I to choose and be picky? I’m open for everyone. I’m just going to pick which school I feel like is best for me and my family and go from there.”