By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
It was only a month or so after he frightened the girl in the Amer-I-Can program that Brandy DuVall, for God knows what reason, got into a car with five young men who took her to a home in Adams County. Antonio rubs his face and picks up Snacks, carefully placing the doll in a box to keep her safe.
August 20, 1998
Theresa Swinton peeks through the double doors of the fifth-floor courtroom. There are no seats available, so she sits on a bench in the hallway. She's just come from a hearing for her eldest son's girlfriend.
The Jeffco DA's office arrested the girlfriend for helping Danny when he was on the run for the murder of Brandy DuVall. Today's hearing was to make sure she understood the charges against her.
It is also the third day of jury selection for the trial of Francisco "Pancho" Martinez, a slow, agonizing process made more so because if this jury finds him guilty, it will send him on to a subsequent trial. One for Pancho's life.
Theresa had hoped to watch the questioning of prospective jurors for a few minutes to show her support for his mother, Linda. She still remembers the quiet boy who never seemed to leave her house at 2727 California, who slept on the floor of her sons' room rather than be parted from Danny and Antonio, his adopted brothers. The polite little "neatnik" who picked up after her messy kids.
She recalls a story her friend Lonnie Lynn told her about when Antonio and Pancho were incarcerated at Lookout. Lynn was conducting a bed check of the dormitory when he noticed that sixteen-year-old Pancho was not in his bed. He found the boy sleeping at the foot of Antonio's bed: the good soldier, watching the back of his fifteen-year-old friend.
Theresa had called Lynn a month ago after meeting with Danny's lawyers, Forrest "Boogie" Lewis and David Lindsey. They wanted her to use her influence to get Danny to accept a plea agreement. It wasn't much of a deal: Plead guilty to first-degree murder and the DA wouldn't seek the death penalty, just life in prison. No parole.
Lynn told her that he'd heard Pancho was going to try to "take the weight off Danny" for his role in Brandy's murder. "He's willing to take the death penalty if it helps."
Theresa doesn't know these new attorneys appointed to Danny's case. It seems to her they just want to get it over with; they flat-out told her there's no chance of an acquittal, not even a slim possibility that a jury might go for a lesser murder charge. It's the death penalty or life without parole, they said.
She doesn't think Pancho will be able to help Danny, either. Her son, like Pancho and Little Frank, had been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, as well as first-degree sexual assault, sexual assault on a minor, kidnapping and assault.
The first murder count is murder after deliberation. She knows there will be testimony that several of the young men, including Danny, Pancho and Sammy Quintana, actually held a little council to decide what to do with the girl after they'd raped her. But even if Danny can somehow claim he was too drunk to have deliberated that night, there's the second count: first-degree murder/felony murder. Essentially, it means that if Danny participated in any of the many felonies that led up to the girl's death--the sexual assault, the kidnapping--then he's just as guilty as the man who stabbed her to death.
Theresa wishes that Danny had been able to keep his first attorney, David Lane, who at least seemed willing to fight if that was what her son wanted. "It's his decision," she told the new lawyers, but she agreed to talk to Danny about the plea deal.
Danny had listened to her and also talked with his grandmother and girlfriend. He'd decided to accept the agreement, "but at the last minute, they wanted him to sign an affidavit that what all these other witnesses were saying is the truth...so they could use it against Panch," Theresa says. "He wouldn't. He'll admit what he did, but he won't say anything to hurt Pancho."
That was nearly a week ago, a Friday. On the following Monday, Jeffco DA Dave Thomas gave official notice that his office would seek the death penalty if Danny is convicted of first-degree murder. The next day, they'd arrested Danny's girlfriend and charged her with being an accessory after the fact.
"Danny says she's a good girl," Theresa says, "that she didn't know about this...She wouldn't let him tell her, she didn't want to know. He says, 'They're hurting her to hurt me.'"
The family is worried about what the prosecution will do next. Will there be more warrants? Theresa prays the prosecutors won't go after others.
But a trial isn't what Theresa wants, either. All along, she thought Danny should just own up to what he'd done...Maybe if he had in the beginning, he could have swung a deal like his cousin's. Sammy Quintana got off with second-degree murder and has a chance of someday getting out of prison.