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.
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 a 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.”
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