Dealing With the Devil

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

One of these devils is Sammy Quintana Jr., she says. But he confessed to the police before any deal was sealed--not just regarding the DuVall killing, but also regarding his part in the murder of Venus Montoya.

Whether he agreed to talk to save himself from the possibility of the death penalty or "to clear his conscience" doesn't really matter, Bakke says. In exchange for his testimony against the others, the prosecution has agreed to "not ask for more than 96 years" at his sentencing after the last trial is over.

The Warren brothers and Jacob Casados, who turned off the highway instead of following the others into the mountains, all got deals. "You'll hear from them," Bakke notes. And the jurors will hear from "Uncle Joe," who has known Frank Vigil since he was a baby. Jose Martinez's cooperation earned him a death sentence from the Bloods and placement in a witness-protection program.

Most of the evidence left at Uncle Joe's house was carried away the next day by Danny Martinez and Sammy Quintana, Bakke says. "But unbeknownst to them, there was one piece of evidence Uncle Joe coveted and had secreted... beneath his kitchen sink."

Although she had rehearsed this many times, Bakke's voice cracks as she describes the little prayer card with the drawing of a hand with a nail hole in it.

There are few dry eyes in the courtroom as Bakke just manages to read the inscription on the card. "See, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand."

By 1985, it was all over between Theresa and Bill. Her kids had about had it with her, too. Theresa was strung out on meth, her moods swinging back and forth like the pendulum of a grandfather clock.

The children went so far as to call their grandmother and beg to come back to Colorado. Theresa's mother sent them money for the plane tickets, then moved the three into the house her parents had left her at 2727 California. Raquel was fourteen, Danny thirteen, Antonio eleven.

Theresa soon followed, moving into the house next door. Bill had given up, saddened but unable to do anything for her. She knew that leaving him was a horrible mistake, both for her and the kids, but she couldn't stop. She couldn't get off drugs.

Her kids did their best to cover for her--like the night she overdosed on heroin in the front yard while celebrating her 32nd birthday. With an ambulance, and potentially the police, on the way, fifteen-year-old Danny ran to his mother's bedroom, found her syringes and drugs and hid them. When the paramedic insisted that they needed to know what Theresa had taken if they were to save her life, he ran back and returned with a single used syringe.

That experience got Theresa off heroin, but it didn't stop her from shooting up other drugs. She was back running with her old friends and never stopped to think what the repercussions would be for her children.

Family meant a lot to the boys. They split their time between 2727 California, where their mother now lived, and their dad's house, a couple of blocks away. They adopted Frankie Vigil, whose mother was living with Big Dan, as a little brother. Their favorite addition to the family, though, was Francisco Martinez.

Pancho, as everyone in his family called him, came from a house full of sisters and eagerly assumed the position of long-lost brother to Danny and Antonio. The three were inseparable.

Theresa liked to say that Francisco "just kind of showed up one day and never left." She'd barely known his mother, Linda, who was older, from the days before she left for California. But Theresa didn't mind. Pancho was a polite, quiet boy and, she soon discovered, liked to keep things neat and tidy. Her own boys were slobs, but Pancho would come over and clean their rooms, even ironing their clothes once they got older and more interested in girls.

Besides, Theresa was too busy worrying about her next high to think much about what her kids were doing. It took "divine intervention" to stop her from shooting up. One night Theresa purchased a $50 bag of cocaine and went to her bedroom, where she'd hidden a brand-new pack of syringes in a box under her bed. She got one out and pulled off the cap that covers the needle, only to find there was no needle to cover. She took out another, and again there was no needle beneath the protective cap. The same was true for every syringe in the package.

Theresa had never lost her faith in God. Now she believed the Lord was telling her to quit injecting drugs. She went into the bathroom and poured the cocaine into the toilet.

It was several years before Antonio told her that he, not God, had gone into her bedroom, found her syringes and broken off every needle. Her kids were that desperate to save their mother. But while she would never again resort to needles, Theresa continued to get high, especially after she was introduced to the pleasures of smoking crack cocaine.

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