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JURY SELECTION BEGINS FOR TRIAL IN '97 TOWN OF TONAWANDA STANDOFF

Jury selection for Martin C. Whitmore's trial in an armed standoff with a Town of Tonawanda police last summer and related crimes got under way today before Erie County Judge Timothy J. Drury.

Whitmore, 44, of Wellington Avenue, spent 20 years in prison for the 1974 kidnapping of a Jamestown-area teen, who was found beaten to death five days after his abduction, and for an unrelated armed robbery. He has been in jail for the past year awaiting trial in the latest incident.

Whitmore is charged with attempted robbery and other counts for allegedly breaking into a Tonawanda home on Aug. 11, 1997, and, four days later, holding police at bay with a shotgun for 19 hours outside his home.

In 1974, Whitmore, formerly of Ellicott in Chautauqua County, received a 25-year prison term on his plea to kidnapping in the Jan. 8, 1974, abduction of Danny Ebersole, 14, of Lakewood. The teen was found bound to a tree and beaten to death five days after the abduction. Whitmore was paroled from prison in 1996.

Whitmore pleaded guilty to kidnapping the Ebersole boy after a jury became deadlocked on the murder charges.But during a 1982 appearance before a state parole panel, he reportedly admitted killing the boy with an iron pipe.

Whitmore and two other teen-age boys were arrested when police found them at the ransom drop where the Ebersole boy's father, Dr. Glenn Ebersole, left a $15,000 payment. Charges against the other boys later were dropped.

FBI agents reportedly found $14,600 of the Ebersole ransom in Whitmore's home but couldn't prove Whitmore was with the teen-ager after his abduction. Whitmore accepted a plea deal on a kidnapping charge and murder charges were dropped.

Although that 1974 jury could not reach a verdict on the murder and kidnapping charges, it did find him guilty of first-degree larceny in the ransom plot.

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