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Dealing With the Devil

When the Deuce-Seven Bloods went hunting for a snitch, they shot Venus Montoya instead.

"As far as you know, Sam Quintana is telling the absolute truth about everything that happened at that apartment?" Sargent asks.

"How can I say that?"
"So if I understand you, you were so drunk you didn't even hear gunshots."
"No, I didn't." After one more round of tears, Ornelas says, "Ever since this situation happened, I've tried to forget about it."

"I'll bet you have," someone in Venus's family says quietly.
Then it's over. Ornelas sits at the witness stand, his head down, until he's told to step down. The defense is done.

It takes this jury even less time to reach its verdict than the jury in Frank Vigil's trial. After just four hours, they send a message to the judge that they're ready. Word is sent to gather the lawyers and families.

After everyone is seated in the courtroom, the Jefferson County sheriff's Special Operations Team quietly assembles in the hall outside. They're in full riot gear.

When the judge says the word "guilty," the section behind Ornelas erupts. Alysha Abeyta, the mother of his children, begins screaming as other family members and supporters shout.

When Woodford orders that Abeyta be quiet or be removed, Ornelas yells, "Fuck you! What the fuck did you expect her to do?"

Deputies quickly subdue Ornelas, who continues to shout profanities.
As the riot squad enters the courtroom, the jurors are quickly escorted out a back door--and Ornelas's supporters vent their anger at Venus's stunned family. Detective Richardson moves to protect them, knocking over the drinking water on the prosecution table in the process.

One of Ornelas's female relatives uses both middle fingers to flip them off. "The fuckin' bitch deserved to die if she was hangin' out with snitches!" she screams as she's pulled from the courtroom by the riot squad.

Just as California pawned off its gang members on Denver by giving deferred sentences and bus tickets to those who left the state, Colorado gave the same deal to Antonio Martinez. His mother moved first, a week after his graduation; it took Antonio a couple of months to follow.

When Theresa asked what was keeping him, he had to admit that a girl he'd been seeing was having a baby. "I think it's mine," he said. He wanted to be there for the child's birth.

In California, Antonio got a job working at Kmart, selling shoes. It was the first real job he'd ever had. "I didn't even need it," he recalls. "I had plenty of money. But Mom got tired of me just hanging around, doing nothin' but drawing."

Of all the members of the Deuce-Seven Crenshaw Mafia Gangsters, Antonio was the only one to ever visit Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles and introduce himself to the Bloods there. But the California gangs were not nearly so welcoming of strangers--especially a Mexican kid--as the gangs in Denver.

Antonio soon had company, though: Danny, now split from Terry, and Pancho moved out to California. Theresa marveled at how relaxed they were, walking unarmed and unafraid down the street to go to a store, something they could never have done safely in Denver. She hoped they'd all make new lives for themselves.

But Antonio, who'd made a lengthy visit to Denver to see his baby, Patricia, was still homesick. After his application to art school was denied, he was done with California. "Okay, let's go home," he told Theresa. Danny and Pancho followed soon after.

Back in Denver, Antonio was accepted to the Colorado Institute of Art, even receiving a federal grant to study. He was warned, however, that any felony drug charge would result in the forfeiture of the grant--no other crime, just drugs.

Danny, Pancho and Antonio had often talked about "going legitimate"--maybe starting a commercial-art company with Antonio doing the art, Pancho doing the grunt work and Danny using his people skills in "marketing."

It was a fun dream. "But Danny always wanted to be the older brother, in charge, the president of the company," Antonio says. That grated on Antonio, but he figured that someday his brother was going to need him worse than he needed his brother. That was part of the reason he'd refused to let anybody stop him from getting an education.

While the brothers sometimes talked about Danny getting away from "the life," it was increasingly clear that that life was all he had. There had been no Ms. Williams to keep Danny in school, no Mr. Vickers to encourage him, and no Lonnie Lynn, whom Antonio kept in touch with when he needed someone to talk to about making the right decisions.

He was working hard in school, but Antonio still hung out with Danny and Pancho--which meant he hung out with other members of the Deuce-Seven and CMG Bloods as well. But he found himself liking few of them, especially guys like Salvino Martinez, who talked big.

And then Antonio made the mistake of letting Danny use his apartment when he went off to school during the day. Danny made it his headquarters for drug sales, and one of the people he sold to was Salvino Martinez.

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