(Photo courtesy of the Mercer County Sheriff's Department)
(Photo courtesy of the Mercer County Sheriff's Department)

BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

egebert@timesbulletin.com

CELINA - The man accused of shooting his girlfriend to death in the Rockford mobile home they shared entered a plea of not guilty on Friday.

Daniel Charles Martin, 40, is charged with first-degree murder and is being held in the Mercer County Jail without bond.

Melinda S. Shinn was found shot to death on the morning of Nov. 8 in their home at 509 North St. in Rockford. Martin was not there when police arrived and was on the run from authorities until he was arrested without incident on Jan. 2 at a home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and was brought back to Mercer County the next day.

No official motive for the shooting has been offered, although Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey has already revealed that the couple had been arguing most of the evening of Nov. 7. That was apparent from text messages received that night by family members. Shinn's nine-year-old son was inside the mobile home at the time, according to Grey, but was not injured.

The 26-year-old Shinn had shared a home with Martin for at least two years. Her body was discovered by Rockford Police Chief Paul May around 10:45 a.m. on Nov. 8. Martin's 1998 Ford Explorer was missing from the address when police arrived, but was found later abandoned in Fort Wayne.

Investigators finally caught up with Martin and followed him for several days before moving in for the arrest on Jan. 2. Along with Martin in the Fort Wayne house, deputies also found an AK-47 assault rifle. He was held in the Allen County (Indiana) Jail before being brought back to Ohio.

Up next for Martin is a pretrial hearing in the case. That hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7 in Mercer County Court of Common Pleas.