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Dealing With the Devil

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

January 7, 1998
"The people call Angela Metzger."
At those words from prosecutor Mark Randall, Angela rises from her seat in the spectator gallery and makes her way up to the witness stand. She raises her right hand and swears to tell the truth.

She is wearing a black dress. A reminder to everyone in the courtroom that she is still in mourning.

"How is it that you know Brandy DuVall?" Randall asks.
"Brandy's my daughter," she replies, using the present tense.
"Can you give us her full name and date of birth?"
"It's Brandaline Rose DuVall. She was born July 28, 1982."

Randall holds up a photograph and asks Angela to identify the girl pictured in it.

"It's Brandy," she says quietly, as the first tear appears on her cheek.
On May 30, 1997, Brandy was "real excited" about moving with her mother to a new apartment the next day.

"How did Brandy travel?" Randall asks.
"By bus, or she would call me or my brother or her brother--someone to come and get her," she replies. "But most of the time by bus."

"Would days go by where you would not hear from her?" Randall asks.
"Never," Angela replies. Usually no more than an hour or two would go by without Brandy checking in.

"Was she in the habit of staying out all night?"
"Rarely. She liked to sleep at home."
Brandy had paged her that afternoon, soon after Angela got off work. She wanted to go shopping at the mall and needed money.

They met two blocks from Angela's mother's house. "She was very happy. She looked beautiful." Now the tears begin in earnest.

After Angela gave her the money, Brandy had reached into her uncle's car and "grabbed me around the neck real hard and said, 'Thanks, Mom.'"

Angela tries to continue, but she can't speak. She takes a moment, then goes on. "I said, 'You're welcome, baby.'"

Brandy started to walk away but suddenly turned back. "'I love you, Mom. I love you, Uncle.' She was bouncy, in a good mood."

Angela takes a deep breath. "It was the last time I ever seen her."
At the defense table, Frank Vigil looks up briefly, then back down at the table. Spectators are sniffling on the other side of the aisle. Brandy's grandmother, Rose, is crying, her thin shoulders shaking.

Randall asks how Brandy was dressed. He needs Angela to explain why her daughter was wearing a red basketball jersey that might attract gang members like sharks to blood.

Her daughter liked to play basketball, she explains, "and Michael Jordan was her idol. She got the shirt from her dad, who lives in Phoenix."

"When did you think something was wrong?" Randall asks.
"The next day." Angela had tried to page her daughter, but there was no response. She tried friends, but no one knew where Brandy was.

At last, 24 hours after she'd last seen her, Angela had reported her daughter missing to the police in Jefferson County and Denver. The next morning, Sunday, the newspaper had an article about an unidentified body found in Clear Creek.

Angela had called the Jeffco coroner. After she described Brandy, she was told to come down to the office. With fear clutching at her like a drowning man, she arrived at the coroner's office. "They told me to come downstairs, where they showed me her jewelry."

Randall holds up a plastic Baggie and hands it to Angela. She opens it and takes out a ring, tries it on. "It's a 'B' ring," she says at last, her voice quavering. "She never took it off."

It's the first time she's seen it since that terrible day at the coroner's office. When she saw it then, she had hoped against hope that her daughter had been robbed. That whoever waited to be identified had stolen these things from her daughter.

But then they had taken Angela to another room and asked her to look through a glass partition. A body bag was unzipped, a face was revealed. Wake up, baby. Wake up.

"Who did you see?" Randall asks, as gently as a question like that can be asked.

"It was Brandy," she says, weeping.
Randall takes his seat. Canney has no questions. A mother's grief is left to wash back and forth across the silent courtroom like a scream off canyon walls.

Next week: Frank Vigil's trial concludes.

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