By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
The Jeffco investigators felt they had enough to move. Sammy Quintana and Frank Vigil were arrested first, followed soon after by Francisco Martinez, who was already in the Denver jail on an unrelated drug charge. A short time later, Maurice Warren and Jacob Casados were picked up. All were charged with ten criminal acts against Brandy DuVall, including first-degree murder, first-degree sexual assault, sexual assault on a child and second-degree kidnapping.
Still, Jeffco investigators didn't have the whole story. They didn't know who'd actually taken Brandy to the mountains, who'd stabbed her to death.
Then Sammy Quintana started talking.
Quintana was facing double trouble. Shortly after his arrest for the DuVall killing, Detective Richardson had charged him and the Ornelas brothers with first-degree murder for the July 15, 1996, death of nineteen-year-old Venus Montoya. That meant he was facing the possibility of two death-penalty murder trials.
To investigator Moore, Quintana admitted his part in the brutality against Brandy DuVall but laid the worst of it, including the stabbing, on Francisco Martinez. Taking a deal offered by the Jeffco District Attorney's Office, he pleaded guilty to two second-degree murder charges, each carrying the possibility of 48 years in prison. In exchange, he agreed to testify against the other defendants in both trials.
Zig Zag's confession inspired a flurry of snitching. David Warren was arrested and joined his brother, Maurice, and Casados in pleading guilty to first-degree sexual assault. The other charges were dropped in exchange for their agreement to testify "truthfully" against whomever decided to go to trial.
At the time, that meant Francisco Martinez--District Attorney Dave Thomas had already announced he would seek the death penalty for Martinez--and Frank Vigil Jr., who would be tried as an adult.
The last suspect, Danny Martinez, was on the run. He wouldn't be apprehended until January 1, 1998, five days before jury selection was set to begin for the trial of Frank Vigil.
January 6, 1998
Jolene Martinez and her fiance, Joe Gonzalez, glance nervously at the crowd moving through the lobby of the Jefferson County courthouse. Jury selection is under way on the fifth floor for the murder trial of Frank Vigil, and they've heard rumors that the Bloods will assassinate anyone who dares appear as a prosecution witness.
The couple has been subpoenaed by the district attorney to report to the courthouse. And now all faces, especially Hispanic and black faces, look hostile. Anyone dressed in anything remotely resembling gang attire is a threat. A bulge beneath a winter coat could be a gun.
"I don't know why they want me," Jolene moans. "My daughter was there that night, staying with my dad. But she's only ten, and she didn't see nothin' or hear nothin'."
Her dad is Jose Martinez, "Uncle Joe." The defendant's mother, Sally Vigil, and her mother, Pam, who was Jose's common-law wife, are cousins.
Through her father, Danny Martinez Jr. and Antonio Martinez--Bang and Boom--are also first cousins. Making the whole thing even more complicated, Danny's father, Danny Sr., used to live with Sally Vigil and helped raise "Little Frankie"--the sixteen-year-old now on trial for murder.
It was fear of the gang, including members of his own family, that kept her father quiet until the police came knocking, Jolene says. And it was fear that kept Jose Martinez from doing something, anything, to save Brandy DuVall that night.
"Dad didn't have a phone," Jolene says. "And he couldn't leave to go get help because he had the kids. He was afraid that if he left, they might kill the kids, too. This has made him sick. He's all tore up and has to take nitroglycerin for his heart. He writes poetry about that little girl. He's always reading his Bible now...He calls her his 'little angel.'"
Her father was asleep with his son and her daughter when he woke up to noises in his home. At first, Jolene says, he thought that whatever was going on with that girl in a back bedroom was consensual. But it didn't take long before he realized he was mistaken.
"He said to me, 'They looked like they had the devil in them.' They were acting crazy, and no matter how much he screamed or yelled at them to take her home--she was begging for her life, you know--they wouldn't listen to him."
"Like animals," Joe Gonzales agrees. "Nobody thinks much about it when these guys in gangs kill each other. They even think of it like they're soldiers, fighting for each other and their 'hood. Only now they're killing civilians. There's no honor. It's sick--killing children."
"At first," Jolene interjects, "I wanted to blame drugs. How else can you explain what they did to that little girl? They just tore her up. But they don't do drugs. They get drunk and smoke some pot, but nothin' like cocaine. They sell it, but they don't do it."
Jolene finds it all very upsetting. She has known Frank Vigil Jr. since he was a little boy. "He was a good little boy, very cute," she remembers. "He's still a little boy. But I hadn't seen him for years...when I did, he was dressed in gang clothes."