By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
"Did she say anything?" Randall asks.
Angela looks down. Only a month has passed since Brandy's birthday, when they erected a four-foot-tall steel cross on the hill above where she'd died. Visiting her daughter's spirit there was about all she had left, except for memories and photographs and tears. Sometimes it seems she'll never run out of tears. She doesn't try to stop them as she looks back up. "I love you," she says softly.
The trial of Francisco Martinez unfolds much like the trial of Frank "Little Bang" Vigil Jr. There are strategic differences, however.
In Vigil's trial, prosecutors concentrated on Frank's position as the protege of reputed gang leader Danny "Bang" Martinez Jr. (hence the "Little Bang" moniker). And on the then-sixteen-year-old being the first to suggest that Brandy had to die to protect their identities.
At this trial, the prosecution is contending that of all the gang members there that night, Pancho was the worst. On him will be laid the most brutal aspects of Brandy's rape and torture; he will be accused of doing the actual stabbing.
In his opening remarks, Pat Ridley makes it clear that the defense position will be that prosecution star witness Sammy Quintana is accusing Pancho in order to "protect" his cousin Danny and himself. That Pancho was "merely present"--a legal term that's the only defense against the felony murder count--while Danny was giving the orders and Sammy was doing the killing. "Blood is thicker than water," Ridley says.
It's nonsense, the part about Sammy protecting his cousin. Danny and Antonio were always closer to Pancho than they were to their blood relative. Pancho had joined the CMG Bloods at the same time the Martinez brothers did, and he had helped establish the Deuce-Seven subset. That was several years before Sammy got involved.
But the jury doesn't know that. And Pancho, who's not exactly trying to "take the weight off Danny," just sits there and lets his attorneys do the talking.
Otherwise, the trial follows the Vigil script. Lance Butler, who with a friend discovered Brandy's body on the afternoon of May 31, 1997, lying next to Clear Creek, is called to the stand. He holds his arms in a circle to describe the pool of blood he nearly stepped in. "We saw more than we intended," he says of that day.
Jeffco sheriff's deputy Diane Obbema recalls her arrival at mile marker 296.5. Of looking back up that hill at a river of blood that led to the body of a young woman.
Then come the gang members, the three who have pleaded guilty to sexual assault and agreed to testify against the others in order to avoid the murder charges. David "Baby G" Warren, who answers each question as though the answer is being pulled ever so reluctantly from his mouth, testifies about walking through the door of 3165 Hawthorne with a box of booze, proclaiming that he and his pals had brought a girl who was "down to have sex" with the gang for some cocaine.
There is testimony about how Warren's half-wit brother, Maurice, walked into the home with an arm around a young girl. Two other girls, one Pancho's girlfriend and the other Danny's girlfriend, were already in the house, getting high with Jose "Uncle Joe" Martinez. One will later testify that the girl with Maurice kept her head down and appeared drunk or high. She wasn't introduced. She wasn't offered a beer. She was taken to the bathroom, where she was given cocaine by Quintana and stripped by Pancho, who then carried her to a back bedroom.
Through all of this, Pancho rarely shows emotion. The jury sees a clean-cut young man in a loose civilian shirt that conceals a shock belt as well as his tattoos.
On the first day of the trial, an attractive young woman is seated on one side of Pancho, his lawyers on the other. The more cynical court observers note that placing an attractive young woman--who otherwise seems to serve no purpose, since she takes no notes and participates in none of the courtroom questioning or discussions--next to the defendant in cases where sexual assault is a component has become common at defense tables. As if to say, See, he's not a danger to women. But she looks uncomfortable when Pancho leans over to whisper something to her. The next day there is a lawyer between the woman and the defendant. By the end of the trial, she is at the opposite end of the table from him.
During a break the first day, when the judge and the jury have left the room, Pancho reveals something more of himself. As Brandy's family rises to leave, he turns toward them and with a smirk nods his head at each one. Angela. Her husband, Carl. Grandma Rose and Grandpa Paul. Brandy's brother Tim. The cousins and friends. It's not a friendly act.
When Sargent angrily notes this to the deputies providing security, Pancho lashes out at the prosecutor. "Fuck you, you fuckin' pussy." Then he turns to prosecutor Bakke and adds, "And fuck you, too, bitch."