The Final Judgment

Two years ago this week, Brandy DuVall was killed by members of the Deuce-Seven gang. For the past month, the courts have been deciding whether her murderers live or die.

It was while living at 2727 California that Danny met his friend Francisco. They were soon inseparable. "Without being biological brothers, they were brothers."

"Was the loyalty factor strong?" Lewis asks.
"Obviously," Raquel answers. "It's why we're here."
Raquel testifies that she and Antonio had dreams of getting out of the neighborhood and eventually made it. Danny had dreams, too, "but they just didn't come fast enough."

Before he turns her over to the prosecution for cross-examination, Lewis asks if there's anything she wants to say to Brandy's family. Raquel nods and dabs at her tears.

"I am sorry," she says. "I have two daughters and can't imagine what you are going through. But I know my brother probably better than anybody. He's not this terrible person he's been made him out to be...He's not."

Sargent stands to question Raquel. His praise of Raquel is so effusive that, if you didn't know better, you would be surprised by what side of the aisle he sits on. But that's the prosecutor's point: Despite what the defense wants to imply, Danny came from a loving, supportive family and had his chances to escape the hole he dug for himself. After all, Raquel did.

"You tried to help Danny?" he asks.
"We help each other," she replies guardedly.
"You tried to keep him straight?"
"Yes."

The prosecutor notes that Raquel had written a letter of support to the judge in Danny's last drug case--a letter in which she promised to help her brother. "You wanted him to succeed?"

"Yes."
"You did not have a wonderful childhood?" Sargent asks.
"No."
"Despite that, you chose to get out and you did."
"Yes."
"And you have a job of which you're proud?"
"Yes."
"And your brother, Antonio, chose to get out and did?"
"Yes."
"And again, that's something to be proud of?"
"Yes."

But Danny didn't make that choice, Sargent points out. And wasn't it true, he asks, that anyone who stays mixed up in gangs was essentially looking at one of two ends: death or prison?

Although Raquel disputes this, she can't come up with other options. She also avoids Sargent's question about Danny's role as the leader of the Deuce-Seven. "He had the respect of his peers," is all she admits to. "He earned their respect."

Sargent asks about the origin of the Deuce-Seven name.
"It was just an address--that's all it was," Raquel replies.
"But it was an address he chose as the name of his gang," Sargent notes. He'll leave it for closing, but one of the points the prosecution wants to make is that Danny and Antonio chose to establish a Bloods gang in the middle of a Crips neighborhood. That sort of in-your-face attitude reflected the boys' aggressive nature.

Referring to a defense investigator's report after an interview with Raquel, Sargent points out that she'd said Danny wouldn't fear Francisco. It's an important issue for the prosecutors, because it contradicts the defense's contention that Danny couldn't have stopped Francisco from killing Brandy.

"Correct," Raquel replies.
The issue of mitigators' relevance becomes a hotter topic when Danny's defense team begins calling witnesses--not to discuss Danny's character or background, but to contrast him with the evils of Francisco Martinez. The twist here is that many of these people are the same witnesses the prosecution had planned to call at Pancho's death-penalty hearing in May. Once again, the prosecution is overruled.

The first of these witnesses is Doug Moore, one of the Jeffco sheriff's investigators who'd worked the DuVall case from the beginning and had been present in the courtroom during Francisco's trial. Lindsey wants to inquire about an incident during that trial.

Moore says that on August 24, 1998, the first day of the trial, during a recess, Francisco had smirked and laughed at Brandy's family and mouthed the words, "Fuck you."

The defense also calls Brad Clemens, a former counselor at a Department of Corrections facility called Independence House. Under questioning by Lewis, Clemens testifies that he'd known both Danny and Francisco when they were living there and says he considered Danny "a follower" who never ordered Francisco around. By comparison, Pancho was "a monster," Clemens says, who'd once told a therapist that his hobby was shooting people "because he liked to see their bodies jump."

In fact, Francisco was the main reason he got out of counseling, Clemens adds. Not out of fear, but because "dealing with Francisco made me understand the near-hopelessness of community corrections.

"Inmates like Francisco Martinez are hardly far and few between. They have no will, no desire to change."

Your honor, I want Brandy's family to know how very sorry I am."
At last, Theresa Swinton, Danny Martinez's mother, has what she's been waiting for: the opportunity to apologize directly to the girl's loved ones, especially to that other mother who sat on the opposite side of the aisle.

During Danny's trial, Theresa had purposely avoided forcing herself on Angela Metzger. She had wanted desperately to tell Angela that she in no way excused the actions of her son, that she was ashamed and deeply offended by his part in what happened to Brandy. But she didn't know if such contact would be permitted or appreciated.

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