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.

Venus Montoya's grandmother, however, had told the judge that she had forgiven Quintana and would accept whatever punishment he deemed necessary.

Sammy's weeping parents had pleaded for mercy, citing their son's efforts on behalf of the prosecution, efforts that might cost him his life in prison. They blamed his "loss of direction" on three factors.

First, their own divorce in 1991, which had left Sammy depressed and looking for a sense of belonging that he found in a gang. Second, his rejection by the Denver Police Academy after he revealed that he had smoked marijuana. And third, the influence of his cousins Danny and Antonio Martinez.

Sammy's attorney, Jim Aber, the chief deputy for the state's public defenders' office, praised Sammy's "truthfulness" on the stand. "Mr. Quintana has really brought down the Deuce-Seven gang and the CMG Blood gang," he said. In Sammy, he added, he'd seen "more remorse and more rehabilitation than I think in any other client I've ever seen."

Aber requested that the judge impose "an appropriate sentence of something less than 96 years...If the Court imposes a 96-year-sentence, everything that he's done for the last two years doesn't really buy him anything, because he will die in prison. He should receive less than the co-defendants who have received life sentences, Your Honor."

And then Sammy Quintana, handcuffed, shackled and in tears, asked that his efforts to "make things right" be considered. "It's not going to bring any closure," he said as families on both sides of the aisle wept. "But I've tried to make it so that there's no unanswered questions. That they won't have to ever wonder what happened that night.

"There's going to be hundreds of whys. I ask myself why every day. Every day I wake up, I ask why, why my life had to turn out like this. But it's because of decisions I made. There's nobody to blame except myself.

"I know one day there's going to be a lot of questions that I'm going to have to answer to my little girl. She's going to wonder why her dad's in jail. She's going to know that her dad made a lot of mistakes in life, and he made some bad choices, and he caused a lot of pain to a lot of people. But she's going to also know that in the end her dad did what's right and that he changed his life, and he did his time a lot different than a lot of people.

"I'm ready to accept whatever sentence you give me. Thank you."
Villano's 26 years on the bench had ended with Francisco Martinez's trial. But he'd agreed to come out of retirement as a senior judge to handle the sentencings, and then again in May for Francisco's death-penalty hearing. Now he told Quintana that although he recognized his efforts had helped resolve the two cases, there were some things that no amount of remorse could make right.

"I can't think of any more horrible acts than have occurred in these cases," Villano said. "You've affected the lives of a lot of people. The lives of the attorneys, the lives of the jurors that heard the cases. Nobody can imagine this type of thing happening until they actually listen to the telling of the events through the testimony of witnesses."

He then sentenced Quintana to two 48-year sentences to run consecutively--96 years all told. "Let me say that I hope you do well for people," the judge added, "because you owe it to society to do that."

The sentencing hearings of the other defendants--David and Maurice Warren and Jacob Casados, all of whom had pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault--went much the same way. Their attorneys pointed out that they, too, were abused as children and lacked parental guidance and good role models. But they'd all since found Jesus and changed their wicked ways.

David Warren, who had been the one to bite her on the breast, even fell to his knees, crying and apologizing to his victim's family. "I pray to God to some day ease my mind, because this will always be a cross I have to bear," he said.

Villano was not impressed. "There's a basic decency that we expect in all people," he said at David Warren's sentencing. "It's not hard to know that hurting or killing someone is wrong. It's not hard to know that taking advantage of a fourteen-year-old girl is wrong, and these are basic things that aren't the result of your upbringing."

David Warren was sentenced to 32 years in prison. His brother, Maurice, described by defense attorneys as one step shy of being declared mentally incompetent, received sixteen years. And Jacob "Smiley" Casados, who was beat into the gang that night, got twenty for his one evening as a member of the Deuce-Seven.

None of them had been with Brandy when she was stabbed...just when she had been raped and tortured.

April 27, 1999
"The presumption of innocence is gone...Mr. Martinez sits before you, a convicted murderer."

Tall and business-like, Deputy District Attorney Ingrid Bakke delivers for the fourth time the prosecution's opening statement in the DuVall case. But when she reaches her conclusion a few minutes from now, she won't be asking a jury to convict the defendant of Brandy's rape, kidnapping and murder.

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