By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Randall knows he must also address the defense's mitigators. First, that Danny was a "minor" participant simply because he didn't actually stab Brandy. "He is in this everywhere, through everything," Randall counters.
Second, that his background explains, perhaps even excuses, his behavior. But it is not fair to blame any of this on Danny's mother, Randall says, or on anyone other than Danny himself. "There is no doubt that Theresa Swinton is hurting, too. There's no doubt that she saw her son going down the path of gangs and drugs and did what she could to turn it around.
"A lot of people stepped up to the plate, and he chose to go the other direction. That's his choice. He made it. He can live with it. The blame is not hers. It's not his sister's...It's not the neighborhood he's in.
"As his aunt stated, he had a hard life, but not one that leads to this...He chose his friends, and he chose the friend that would be with him throughout his life--all the way through the death of Brandy DuVall: Francisco Martinez. Pancho."
Others survived life at 2727 California, got out of the neighborhood. "The neighborhood was tough, in part, to be sure, because of the Deuce-Seven," Randall says. "But what does a tough neighborhood have to do with the torture of a fourteen-year-old girl in 1997?
"Everyone we heard from was able to choose to get out of that life. Uncle Jimmy. Raquel. Theresa. And even his brother, fellow Deuce-Seven gang member Antonio, gets out.
"He doesn't. He doesn't want to."
Step three in the four-step death-penalty process requires the panel to weigh the aggravators against the mitigators. Only if the aggravators outweigh the mitigators is the defendant declared eligible for the death penalty.
But in step four, all legal arguments are dropped and the judges are asked to make what the Colorado Supreme Court called "a profoundly moral decision" on whether the defendant deserves to die.
At last Randall turns to this step. "Why should this defendant die?" he asks, then answers:
"Some crimes are simply so shocking that society insists on the adequate appropriate punishment. He should die because of every horrible, torturous act that he did to that girl.
"But you know something?" Randall asks before pointing one more time at Danny. "The blood's on his hands, it's on his legs, it's on his genitals--it's everywhere that he got the blood of that young girl on him that night. It's not washing off.
"The standard of the death penalty is not Francisco Martinez. The bar is not Francisco Martinez. Francisco Martinez may be a hundred miles above the bar. There's other people that go over that bar, too, and he's one of them.
"Sentence him to the only appropriate sentence there is: Death."
There is hardly time to absorb the impact of Randall's statement before Lewis stands to deliver his closing. This will be his only chance. Because the burden of proof is on the state, the prosecutors will get the chance to rebut him.
"I'm so tired of seeing the carnage in these cases, and there is much in this one," Lewis says, shaking his head. He sounds tired, and with good reason--he was also the attorney for Nathan Dunlap, the nineteen-year-old who executed five pizza-parlor employees and is currently on death row. It was the appeal of the Dunlap case that affirmed the four-step death-penalty process.
"This is the story of a beautiful little girl whose life was taken needlessly and brutally. And it's easy for all of us on both sides of the courtroom to be angry, and to be frustrated, and to feel sympathy, as we should, for her family.
"It's easy to see mothers from both sides of the courtroom wishing they could have done more for their children--one wishing they could have saved her life, one wishing that she could save two lives.
"It's also the story of two brothers and the road that they took, and the forks in the road. We make choices in our lives, for which we are responsible. But there are many factors that go into those choices, and some of them are very strong.
"We don't choose where we're born. We don't choose who our parents are. We don't choose where we live. We don't choose what's going on in the world around us."
But why, he asks, "would anybody choose...I'm sorry, Danny. Why would anybody choose Francisco Martinez as a friend?"
Danny shows no reaction, but Lewis hasn't waited for one. Instead, he turns to the judges and asks, "How many times have you seen a young person in front of you and you said, 'You know, young man, young woman, you've got to change your friends. You've got to get away from these people.'
"They don't want to listen. So few of them are ever able to break free. He didn't choose for Francisco to be right next door to him, but Francisco was there...And no matter how evil someone is, there is a loyalty that develops with family and friendship, a loyalty that's hard to break, a loyalty that's misguided, a loyalty that's destructive, a loyalty that's dangerous, a loyalty that's not logical or analytical. But it's strong."