How a rising California baseball star’s life toppled into a death penalty trial – The Mercury News

4September 2020

When Santiago High baseball gamer Brandon Willie Martin signed a contract in 2011 to bet the Tampa Bay Rays, he did so with an eye towards his future: The $1 million signing bonus offer, received after Martin was the 38th general choice in the draft, included $144,000 for college.

With that cash in hand, Riverside County district attorneys say, Martin lived his life like there was no tomorrow.

Now, 9 years later on, the 27-year-old’s future remains in question.

On Sept. 17, 2015, district attorneys say, Martin swung a wooden, black baseball bat etched with his name at his daddy’s Winthrop Drive home in Corona and bludgeoned to death his daddy, Michael Martin, 64; his uncle, Ricky Andersen, 58; and Barry Swanson, 62, a specialist installing an ADT security system that was meant to keep Brandon away.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Workplace is looking for the capital punishment as the trial resumes with jury selection Friday, Sept. 4, after a break because of the coronavirus pandemic. Martin’s lawyer, T. Edward Welbourn, stated Martin is mentally ill and as an outcome ought to not deal with capital penalty if founded guilty. Martin has actually pleaded not guilty to 3 counts of murder and other charges connected to his capture.

The trial might not continue on Friday; Welbourn stated he will seek to postpone it to January. In the meantime, the victims’ households are taking legal action against Riverside County, declaring neglect, declaring that authorities failed to properly evaluate Martin throughout a mental-health hold in the days prior to the slayings and launched him from the 72-hour detention too soon.

‘Clearly gone to his head’

A trial short submitted by the DA’s Workplace detailed a life for Martin filled with excess, psychological problems and rage.

Martin, a shortstop, completed an effective first minor league season in 2011 throughout which his coaches considered him reserved and peaceful.

That November, Martin rented a 6,700-square-foot home on Hidden Hills Road in Yorba Linda. He paid $6,000 a month and lived there through February 2012. During that time, the trial short stated, Brea police were called to the home 19 times. Authorities records note loud celebrations, a brawl with baseball bats and “blood all over.”

Partiers, numerous under age 21 and drinking, were seen urinating on neighboring lawns and reported substance abuse and half-naked girls dancing on tables. Two times, Martin was arrested for disturbing the peace.

“It was a genuine bacchanalian and wrong presence,” the trial short stated. “Brandon Martin was 18 years old and had actually simply received a $1 million expert baseball agreement; it had actually clearly gone to his head.”

Following the 2012 minor league season, Martin rented a five-bedroom house in the Eagle Glen Golf Club neighborhood in Corona. His entourage from the Yorba Linda manse relocated, and the drug-infused celebrations continued, the trial short stated.

Martin was playing well in spring training in 2013 before fracturing his left thumb. After his healing, he was assigned to the Bowling Green Hot Rods in Kentucky, where coaches stated he was ill-mannered and did not react well to criticism.

Ultimately, Martin was sent out home after failing 3 drug tests for marijuana. Then at an educational camp in January 2014, Martin was again ill-mannered towards coaches, tossing profanities at them.

”These coaches, with decades of experience, specified it was the worst behavior they had actually ever seen from a player,” the trial short stated.

Martin was again sent out home and quickly ran into more difficulty. He broke a finger assaulting his older sibling, Sean, on Feb. 5. The Rays suspended Martin through September. On March 26, 2015, the Rays launched Martin from his agreement.

His baseball profession was over, but the worst, as declared by district attorneys, was yet to come.

Martin’s violence increases

Following his release, Martin lived mainly at his moms and dads’ home, continuing to abuse drugs. He had no job, he had actually spent all his money, and he was resentful of being supported by his moms and dads, the trial short stated. Martin, who is biracial, especially focused his anger on his Black daddy, calling him a racist slur. Martin when head-butted Sean; another time Martin punched his handicapped daddy, who used a wheelchair, in the head.

The household lastly scheduled an intervention for Martin on Sept. 15, 2015, two days after he choked his mother, Tune, and held scissors to her neck.

At that intervention, Martin’s cousin Michael Andersen reported the attacks to Corona police. Martin confessed to an officer that he choked his mother but stated it was self-defense. He rejected threatening anybody with the scissors he picked up. Martin told the officer he was seeing a therapist but was not taking his medication.

The officer decided to take Martin in for a 72-hour mental-health assessment. Relative did not desire Martin taken, fearing the impact on his baseball profession, the trial short stated, but they relented when the officer stated the other option was an arrest.

What happened at Riverside County Mental Health in Riverside is being challenged in the survivors’ lawsuit. The fit states the county did not treat or detect Martin, and that he was launched early from the hold to maximize a bed. The county, court records reveal, stated Martin was given a psychiatric assessment and that physicians identified Martin with a mood disorder and drug abuse but decided he did not fulfill the criteria to be apprehended.

Martin was prescribed a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant. On Sept. 17, he was told his household didn’t desire him at their house, and he was given a bus pass and directions to a bus stop, the trial short stated.

But Martin did go to his moms and dads’ home, the trial short stated.

”Instantly upon reaching the home,” the lawsuit states, “Brandon smashed his wheelchair-bound daddy’s head in with a baseball bat, eliminating him instantly. The ADT alarm installer, Barry Swanson, attempted to stop the attack. Brandon then attacked Swanson with the baseball bat, eliminating him. Ricky Andersen attempted to step in to stop the attack. Brandon beat Andersen with the baseball bat, and dragged him into the garage.”

Martin then stole the victims’ wallets and cell phones, in addition to Swanson’s car, and went to dinner at Carl’s Jr., the trial short stated.

Martin was arrested the next day after an automobile pursuit and foot chase. He told detectives that he got in the home and found the bloody scene but was not responsible for the victims’ deaths.

‘He has value to his household’

Welbourn, the defense attorney, stated it is challenging to determine what failed in Martin’s life but that he was abusing drugs and having psychotic episodes.

“It’s simply a really tragic situation for everyone, and it simply shocks me that when you have an individual who is 5150 (mentally ill) … now the response is to try to provide the gentleman the capital punishment,” Welbourn stated.

He plans to focus on the charge stage of the trial, he stated, and try to save Martin from that fate.

District Attorney Mike Hestrin, in an interview, stated his workplace thought about the mental-health issue but eventually decided that in pursuing the capital punishment, the irritating factors far exceeded any mitigating information.

Welbourn stated he is concerned that COVID-19 distancing rules issued by the court will prevent family members from attending the trial and that the absence might influence the jury’s choice on a charge.

“If all they see is an empty courtroom, they’re going to think no one cares,” Welbourn stated. “The feeling of the trial will be pulled out of it, and in a case like this, the only way to save his life is to reveal there is mental illness and that he has value to his household and that the household still likes him.”


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