Update – Wednesday, November 4: The defendant was found guilty. You can learn more here.
In less than a decade, Brandon Willie Martin went from being an early draft pick in Major League Baseball to going on trial in the triple murders of his father, uncle, and a third man. You can watch in the player above.
Prosecutors in Riverside County, California, and a lawsuit describe a fraught life leading up to the 2015 killings. Martin, who was picked 38th overall in the 2011 MLB draft by The Tampa Bay Rays, was released by the team after a rocky minor league career, which was marked by allegedly cursing at his coaches, failing marijuana drug tests, and fracturing a left thumb, according to an account from The Press-Enterprise. A troublesome baseball career was beside the point, however. Toward the end of his run in the minor leagues, he allegedly broke a finger attacking his older brother on February 5, 2015.
Martin lived with his parents after getting released. His relationship with them was allegedly marked by racist hate against his father Michael Martin, who was Black. The mixed-race defendant allegedly used skin lighteners, disliked being Black, and called his father a slur.
Things escalated when he allegedly choked his mother and had scissors at her neck. Cops were called at an intervention, and Brandon Willie Martin was held on a 72-hour mental health hold. He eventually released–early, according to a lawsuit–and he allegedly turned home, where he allegedly beat his wheelchair-bound father to death with a baseball bat. Barry Swanson, an ADT alarm installer at the scene, attempted to put a stop to this, but he too was killed. Only the defendant’s maternal uncle Ricky Andersen survived, and that was only for two days in a coma.
Defense lawyer Edward Welbourn said his client is mentally ill, and should not face death.
If convicted and sentenced as charge, a death sentence would be a formality because California currently has a moratorium on the death penalty and on top of that, had no even executed an inmate since 2006.
“We loved my father,” Swanson’s son Jeremy Swanson told KTLA. “He was a good man. He did not deserve this, nobody deserves this.”
[Image of Brandon Willie Martin via Riverside County]
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