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Jury Recommends Life Sentence for Former 38th Overall Pick in 2011 MLB Draft

Brandon Willie Martin

A jury in Riverside County, California recommended on Thursday that Brandon Willie Martin, 27, get a sentence of life without parole in the triple murders of his wheelchair-bound father Michael Martin, 64, maternal uncle Ricky Anderson, 51, and ADT alarm installer Barry Swanson, 62.

Martin, the 38th overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, beat the victims to beat with a baseball bat in 2015 after being put on a 72-hour mental health hold, prosecutors said. Swanson was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, according to authorities.

The September 17, 2015 slayings followed years of a fraught minor league career and an allegedly deteriorating mental state for the defendant. The question before jurors was whether he deserved death. As far as the defense was concerned, they wanted to keep him from capital punishment. A psychiatrist testified on their behalf that the defendant would have better access to treatment outside of death row.

The state maintained that Martin deserved death, however. The murders were a cowardly act, they maintained. Andersen, who survived several days in a coma, was still alive when the defendant searched through his pockets, the state said. Martin dragged his father’s body into the garage. He showed purposefulness and rational mind in getting rid of the phones stolen from the scene, indicating that he knew what he did was wrong. He knew that the technology could be used to track those phones.

In the penalty phase, family members said Brandon Willie Martin was social and outgoing as a kid. Family and Martin’s former girlfriend from high school said that the defendant began to change, acting paranoid. Martin had a drug problem, and was eventually diagnosed as a schizophrenic, said the defense. He began laughing and talking to himself.

Melody Martin, the defendant’s mother, testified how her son went to the family home one night, and he told her he could not go back to his residence. He was scared.

She described an incident in which her son put his hands on her neck. In another, he jumped out of bed, grabbed scissors, and motioned toward her with the scissors, she said. Melody Martin said that in her mind, he was not about to hurt her and that he was holding the scissors to protect himself. She did not support putting her son to death. She did not want to lose another family member, saying it was a “dagger in my heart.”

[Mugshot via Riverside County]

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