Dealing With the Devil

Brandy DuVall went through hell before she died. She left no angels as witnesses.

Angela Metzger and her daughter were still living with Angela's adoptive parents, Rose and Paul, on May 30, 1997, but were moving into their own place the next day, Bakke says. Angela last saw her daughter at six that evening, when they met on a street corner so that she could give Brandy a little spending money for the weekend. "Brandy reached into the car to give her a hug, and Angela told her, 'I love you,' to which Brandy replied, 'I love you, Mom.'"

Bakke jumps ahead to tell how Lance Butler and his friend discovered the body of an unidentified young woman by Clear Creek Canyon just outside of Golden. And how Jefferson County deputy Diane Obbema arrived at the scene and "saw, literally, a river of blood leading to the creek."

Bakke goes over Brandy's injuries. The stab wounds. The bruises. The bite mark and mutilation of her anus.

The jurors are realizing what Canney meant during jury selection when he said they would be shocked by the "sheer horror" of the case. They sit soberly through Bakke's depiction of Angela's frantic, two-day search for her daughter.

Bakke's voice strains as she describes the misery of a mother knocking on a glass partition at the Jefferson County Coroner's office, begging her daughter to "wake up, baby, wake up." And knowing that she would not.

Small cries and sniffles can be heard in the spectator gallery, and even some of the jurors wipe at their eyes. Across the aisle, Canney looks impassively at Bakke, as if listening to an interesting, but not necessarily believable, theory about the creation of the universe. Frank Vigil stares down at the table in front of him. Behind him, his mother bows her head.

Bakke knows that the jury will wonder why a fourteen-year-old girl was wandering the streets at midnight. So she explains that Brandy and Angela were "more like best friends than a mother/daughter relationship." The girl was "independent and in control of her life and did not need a mother to take care of her." She was "street-smart and, like most teenagers, she probably thought she was invincible."

Brandy was no angel, Bakke concedes. She drank alcohol, smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine. "But this case is not about her lifestyle, but the rape, torture, kidnapping and murder of Brandy by, among others"--the prosecutor turns and points at Vigil, who keeps his head down--"this man." A member of the Deuce-Seven Crenshaw Mafia Gangster Bloods, known as "Little Bang."

After drinking and getting high with her friend, Patrice Bowman, Brandy was standing at a bus stop on Federal when a car with five young men pulled up. Two of the men are "incidental to the case"; the other three are David "Baby G" Warren, his slow-witted brother, Maurice "Trap" Warren, and Jacob "Smiley" Casados.

"What exactly was said, we don't know," Bakke continues. But Brandy got in their car and was taken far north into Adams County, to 3165 West Hawthorne Place, near Federal Boulevard and 60th. It was a tiny ranch house, about 1,000 square feet of living space. A chain-link fence surrounded an unkempt yard filled with weeds, trash and discarded automobile parts.

Sleeping in one room was Jose "Uncle Joe" Martinez, who rented the house, as well as his ten-year-old son, Jose, and nine-year-old granddaughter, Rochelle. He was sleeping with the children because he'd done his laundry that day, and his clean clothes were still neatly folded on the bed in his own room.

Hanging out at the home when Brandy arrived were four more members of the Deuce-Seven: Danny "Bang" Martinez Jr., Francisco "Pancho" Martinez, Sammy "Zig Zag" Quintana Jr. and Little Bang.

Bakke briefly outlines the next five hours, a "nightmare," a "free-for-all" of rape, debasement and savagery. When they were through, there was a young girl, pleading for her life, who made the mistake of admitting that she knew where she was. It was at that point, Bakke says, that the defendant, Frank Vigil, planted the seed for her death by telling the others they were going to have to "dust her" to prevent her from going to the police.

Brandy was taken into the mountains by Bang, Zig Zag, Pancho and Little Bang. At a turnoff from the highway, "in the dead of night," she was pulled from the car, stabbed, then flung off the embankment toward the stream below.

"There in the dark," Bakke says, just loud enough to be heard, "Brandy DuVall lay...but she was alive and struggled to get up...until at last she tumbles...and falls...and bleeds to death."

Bakke pauses to take a sip of water. Behind her, the sounds of sorrow are more pronounced.

"Crimes committed in hell do not have angels as witnesses," she resumes. It is an old line, a standard that prosecutors use when they know their witnesses are hardly more credible than the defendant.

The defense is sure to portray these witnesses as liars and worse, making deals and saying whatever it takes to save their own skins. To counter that, Bakke notes that "without angels for witnesses," the only way for the government to give Brandy justice "is to make deals with the devils."

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