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.

Danny has many good qualities, his lawyer asserts. "Would the real Danny Martinez please stand up?" But he made bad choices, especially when he chose to leave Arkansas and return to Denver.

"Oh, God, what a horrible choice," Lewis says. "He's not a killer. This man was not on the road to killing anybody. He's no Francisco. He's not an evil person." Except for a prior drug conviction or two, Lewis notes, Danny qualifies for the "no serious prior criminal history" mitigator.

And now the defense attorney moves closer to the argument that he hopes will sway at least one member of the panel: that Danny was not the principal player in Brandy's death. That if Antonio had persuaded him to leave when he did, the same atrocities and murder would have occurred.

They would have occurred because Sammy and Pancho would have still been there, he says. Particularly Pancho, who turned the sexual assault of Brandy DuVall from "inappropriate and disgusting" to "the unthinkable."

Even though Danny stayed, Lewis adds, he was not the leader. "There's a train that Francisco set in motion, but no one's at the wheel," he says. "This was a bunch of people who made unthinkable choices, who had blind loyalty to each other, who didn't have courage enough, guts enough, to get out of a situation or to stop a situation that they wouldn't have started."

He wishes "no harm to anyone," Lewis says, and does not want to "bash Francisco." Then he proceeds to do just that: "This is not a person who needs to be encouraged or assisted in doing the most evil you could ever imagine in your whole life.

"This is a person who even in the solemnity of the courtroom cannot hide his evil side and his anger...I mean no harm. I mean no harm. But this is an evil man.

"This, I suggest to you, was going to happen...If Danny had left with Antonio, these fates were already in place. It wasn't Danny who started anything that night. It wasn't Danny who took this to a level of no return. If Danny had gone with Antonio, these events would still have happened, probably just the way they happened.

"His influence was minimal. These forces were set in motion. You had the personality and the evil of Francisco. You had Sammy Quintana, who was willing to hold her by the hair. You have Frank, who said, 'Let's kill her--she knows where we are.'

"You want to list them one, two, three, four--I'm not so sure that you wouldn't put Sam Quintana up there right below Pancho."

Lewis is at the critical point of his defense, the bar Colorado juries have not crossed--and, he hopes, the one judges won't, either. "Do we kill a person who did not themselves kill this little girl? Or should the death penalty be reserved for those worse cases, for the worse people, for those by whose hand the death of sweet, innocent people was caused?"

Turning to Danny, Lewis winds up by saying, "I am proud of the statement you made to the Court. I have no words that eloquent."

The boy Danny Martinez had good qualities. The man Danny has demonstrated that he is capable of the atrocities that happened to that child."

Randall responds to Lewis's portrayal of the defendant with anger. "The man Danny Martinez has demonstrated that although he is 25 years old with a GED, he chooses to possess more than 30 grams of crack cocaine, threaten police officers, murder, rape, torture a fourteen-year-old girl.

"This is not about sex. He had a girlfriend. She was in the house when Brandy was brought in. This is about his desire to torture and brutalize a human being."

Danny could have left that night, Randall points out. But he didn't. "It is Danny who was orchestrating her death."

Randall attacks the NAACP statistics. "We don't know the facts of the cases. For someone who's standing right next to a person that's being stabbed, and orchestrated, and participated in, and took place in everything leading up to the death, intended to her to die, can very well be considered a triggerman.

"But what those statistics do tell us is that there are some cases in which it is absolutely appropriate for even a non-triggerman to be sentenced to die, and Colorado is now facing one, right here and right now.

"How many forks in the road did he come to? There's not one fork in the road. There is not one great fork in the road that created this case. This defendant was thrown lifeline after lifeline after lifeline, choice after choice after choice, chance after chance after chance, and he always chose the wrong one.

"Why? That's what he wants to do.
"He comes out of that neighborhood as the evil murderer that he is, and other people do not. Why? Because he's different. Because he's capable of what he did to Brandy, and the others are not.

"There is only one punishment appropriate for the horror of this crime. It must stop. It must stop. He's been given enough chances. No more.

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