Judgment Day

As judges ponder the fates of Brandy DuVall's murderers, they must measure different shades of black.

On cross-examination, Randall comments that Francisco was often unkind to her.

"Quite a few times," she concedes.
Once, Randall continues, when Nicole found out about a pregnant girlfriend and confronted Francisco in tears, "his reaction was to laugh."

"That's true."
Randall points out that while Francisco was living in the halfway house, she was supporting their three children alone--even though she was sick with lupus. And during this time, Francisco took her rent money.

"We had an argument," Nicole says in Francisco's defense. "He just put it in a different place."

Reading from a defense interview of Nicole, Randall notes that she'd said when Francisco joined a gang, "he was proud for doing something he knew he shouldn't."

Nicole nods. "It was the first time he had ever accomplished something on his own."

Randall asks her about a domestic-violence incident on April 21, 1993, during which he struck and kicked her "numerous times" and threatened her with a gun.

They both had been fighting, Nicole responds. She was partly to blame.
Randall asks Nicole if she's aware of comments Francisco made to caseworkers at the halfway house. In one, he said that though he loved his children, he felt no special attachment to them and that they were their mothers' responsibility. In another, he said that if he went back to prison, Nicole would leave him, but that was okay because he'd just start another family.

"Those weren't nice things to say," Randall suggests.
"No, they weren't," Nicole agrees.
In tears, she insists that Francisco always made it a point to see the children. But throughout her testimony, she refers to them as "my children," never "our children."

May 19, 1999
"Your Honors, Judge Villano, Judge Hickman and Judge Hyatt, I want to apologize to Angela Metzger, and Paul and Rose Vasquez, and say that I am deeply sorry for my participation in this crime...She didn't do anything to deserve what happened. You didn't deserve this."

Francisco Martinez Jr. stands at the defense table, reading from a single sheet of paper. Today, the last day of his hearing, he wears a long-sleeved white shirt over his tattoos, his scars and the electric-shock control belt.

For the past two days, he'd been out of his cell and in attendance while two defense psychologists contended that he was depressed and suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome and an antisocial-personality disorder--all attributable to his abused, violent childhood and youth. Now, in just a few minutes, closing arguments will begin and then his fate will be turned over to the judges.

At the sentencing hearing for Danny Martinez, Danny's sister, grandmother and mother all tearfully apologized to Brandy's family. Danny's aunt, while testifying that he'd had a difficult childhood, also said that it was "not one that leads to this." No one in his family had wanted Danny to die, of course, but they weren't blind to what he had done. And so they'd requested that his lawyers let them make their apologies.

At this hearing, no one from Francisco's side has offered a word of condolence to Brandy's family. His mother and sisters were never asked to give a statement or testify. Two aunts and his wife appeared on the witness stand, but none said a word to Brandy's family.

It is up to Francisco, who makes his remarks in a flat, emotionless voice. He says he's sorry for the harassment incident during his trial. "I was not trying to make it worse for you," he tells Brandy's family.

Then he apologizes to his own family for his actions, "especially my mother, my sisters and my children, and I want to thank you for staying by my side all the way," he says. He does not mention Nicole.

Francisco looks up and thanks the judges. "Please spare my life," he says, then sits down.

Hal Sargent wastes little time with his closing arguments. The prosecutor wants this to be over as much as anyone. Preparing for this closing, he decided not to use the photographs of Brandy--in part because he didn't think they would be necessary, but more because he couldn't stand to look at them again.

"We would have to search a long time in the darkest reaches of our minds and imaginations to come up with a crime more depraved than this one," he begins.

Looking directly at Francisco, who keeps his eyes on the judges, Sargent adds, "We've seen hell in its most human form.

"What he did to Brandy DuVall was brutal, it was absolutely merciless and absolutely tortuous...What kind of man does that to a child--intentionally, deliberately and, the evidence is, even joyfully."

Turning to Brandy's family, he says, "When he killed Brandy, he did something else. He sentenced these good people to lives of sorrow, grief and pain."

With that, he goes through the five aggravators he says the prosecution has proved beyond a reasonable doubt. When he reaches the "heinous, cruel and depraved" aggravator, he points to Francisco and asks the judges to imagine "the terror of that little girl when she felt the knife and then that man's hands around her neck...knowing he was going to kill her and knowing she could do nothing about it."

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