Longform

Judgment Day

Page 14 of 17

She'd met Francisco when they were both young teens. She was soon pregnant, but Francisco and his family were unhappy when she had a baby girl instead of a boy.

Nevertheless, she says, Francisco was always a good father to the three children...coming by to see them, even when they didn't live together, as often as two or three times a week.

Francisco's mother didn't like her. "She'd rather see him with his friends than his family," Nicole says. Linda would even invite Francisco's girlfriends and children to dinner with them.

"She was always interfering," Nicole says. And forever making up ways to get Francisco to come home. "She was always dying of cancer or some other sickness."

On August 19, 1994, Francisco was shot by members of the Crips gang. After he recovered, he was sent to prison in Buena Vista, where Nicole visited him with the kids every weekend. He was in prison when they married, in February 1995.

They married because they loved each other, Nicole says. But Linda didn't like it. She would tell Nicole's children, "'I'm not your grandmother,' and 'Your mother's a bitch,' which is not something you tell a two-year-old boy."

When Francisco got out of prison and went to the halfway house, things went well for a while. But gradually Nicole began to see less and less of him. She didn't know he was carrying on with her cousin Gina.

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.

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Steve Jackson