By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
"But I think he was affected when his grandfather got killed in a construction accident. I remember it was November 12, 1981, and he was working in downtown Denver when a concrete slab fell on him and cut off his legs."
This trial has been even harder than that on the family. "It used to be you'd go over to their house and they'd keep you laughing the whole time," Bartles says. "Now it's like going to a funeral."
The sun is beginning to sink behind the barren hills to the west of the courthouse. As the light strikes the window, an image appears.
Apparently, one of the courthouse pigeons had tried to fly through the glass, striking the pane so hard that dust from the feathers--down to the tiniest ones on the chest--left a perfect imprint with two outstretched wings. Only where the head struck was the detail lost, and there's a single bright smear, like the flash of a camera strobe light. And as the light hits the mark...
"Oh, my God," Bartles whispers. "It looks like an angel...Like maybe the girl was trying to get in."
Others are thinking along the same lines. During a break in the horrific testimony of Jose Martinez, some spectators notice the apparition as they exit the courtroom.
They make the sign of the cross.
Kaplan's cross-examination of Jose Martinez is angry, confrontational. "Let's talk first a little bit about the evidence that you helped get rid of," he begins. "When you were collecting the materials in your home, at that point you had known that there was a serious assault that had taken place, isn't that right?"
"Yes, sir." Uncle Joe knows he has nothing to fear. He broke the law by helping cover up a crime but has been assured he will not be prosecuted.
"At that point you had known that a rape had taken place?'
But he wasn't so afraid of the Bloods, Kaplan points out, that he got out of the house.
"I wasn't going nowhere, sir."
"That is right. After you collected all these things in the morning, you didn't immediately wake up your son and your granddaughter and say, 'Let's get out of the house, before anybody comes back,' did you?"
Kaplan points out that Uncle Joe wasn't afraid of Danny Martinez harming his son.
"He is my nephew, sir."
"He was there sometimes when Joe Junior was there, right?"
"And that was okay by you?"
"And you weren't scared when he was there just with your son Joe, were you?"
"You didn't call the police, did you?"
"I did not call the police...I am not stupid. I'm not going to call the police on a man...I didn't ask no questions. I didn't want no part of it."
"Frank Vigil you have known for a long time?"
Uncle Joe nods. "Since he was born. I held him."
"As a matter of fact, your ex-wife, isn't her brother Frankie's father?"
"Yes, he is my good friend, too."
"So there are some relations there?"
"I love Frank Vigil. I love his son," Uncle Joe says, turning partly to face the hard stares coming from the gallery behind the defense table.
"And you said that Danny Martinez is your nephew?"
"And Sammy Quintana, Zig Zag, is actually related to Danny, isn't that right?" This goes back to Ridley's opening gambit, that blood is thicker than the bonds that tie Pancho to the Martinez brothers.
"So all those people are related by blood or by marriage somehow. Isn't that right?"
Kaplan is trying to build a case against the others as the true killers. It's Danny who handcuffs Brandy. Danny who throws her to the floor. Frank Vigil who suggests they have to kill her.
"And the person who responds to that is Zig Zag, Sammy Quintana. Isn't that right?"
"One of them."
"He is out of control, is he not?"
"They are all out of control."
"And you have been telling Danny, 'Take her home,' right?"
"Take her home, take her to the hospital, drop her off, do something with her, but don't hurt her...I told all of them."
"But you were telling Danny because you thought Danny would follow your orders?"
"They all heard me. I was telling all of them, plus Danny."
"Danny is who you're the closest with?"
Uncle Joe nods. "That is my true blood."
Word that the jury has reached a verdict goes out shortly before 11:30 a.m. Friday, September 3. The jurors had made their decision in just a couple of hours.
The last of the government witnesses, including Sammy Quintana, had testified the day before. "Who was stabbing her?" prosecutor Hal Sargent had asked. "Francisco Martinez," Sammy had replied.
When Kaplan had accused Quintana of being the real killer, Sammy had retorted that "but for one man's actions"--Pancho's--the girl would still be alive. "It wasn't my actions that led to murder."
Courtroom 5-B fills quickly. Except for Francisco Martinez's family, most who enter try first to sit on the prosecution side, as if by doing so they cast a vote along with the jury. But court personnel and district attorney employees have already claimed most of the seats in the rows behind Brandy DuVall's family. A couple of spots in the first row remain open for Angela and Carl, who have yet to arrive.