A one-time baseball star at Corona High School who washed out of a promising professional career due to drug use and disciplinary issues was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday January. 29, to kill his father, an uncle and an alarm system installer with his own bat fatally in 2015.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard J. Schwartz approved criminal conviction recommendation made by the jury who convicted Brandon Willie Martin, 27, of three counts of murder.
Schwartz could instead have given him the death penalty that the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office wanted.
The Tampa Bay Rays made Martin a shortstop, the 38th player selected in the draft major league 2011 after graduating from high school that year and signed him to a $ 1 million bonus. But Martin, who peppered his Yorba Linda nest at $ 6,000 a month with alcohol, illegal drugs and half-naked women, court documents say, were out of baseball without having reached the major leagues by March 2015.
He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia before he was released early from a 72-hour mental health ward on September 17, 2015. Hours later, he used a baseball bat engraved with his name to kill his father who uses a wheelchair, Michael Martin, 64, of Corona; his uncle Ricky Lee Andersen, 51, of Corona; and Barry Swanson, 62, of Riverside.
Swanson, who worked for ADT, was at home installing an alarm system because family members feared Martin, who had previously assaulted his parents.
“What is most alarming is how it was done,” Schwartz said before dismissing the sentence. “The fact that he used his signature model bat to cause all this damage.
“This bat, which opened the doors to what would have been a successful future, caused the brutal murder of his family and a stranger, Mr. Swanson.”
Martin’s lawyers, who previously said they were satisfied with the jury’s sentencing recommendation, declined to comment Friday. The district attorney’s office said in a statement that it accepts the decision.
Martin made no apparent reaction to Schwartz’s verdict. He also did not look at the more than half a dozen speakers who told the court how the deaths affected them, with a four-meter-high picture of Swanson shown nearby. Martin sat with his head down at an angle from the speakers, wearing a red jumpsuit and a white mask.
No one, including Martin himself, spoke on his behalf.
The victims told of life torn apart, families in therapy and grandchildren crying in their sleep and wondering why their beloved grandfathers were no longer around. Some said the victims were the “glue” that held the families together.
Jeremy Swanson said in an earlier hearing that he and some of his siblings have not agreed since his father’s death left no one to make peace in the family.
Jeremy Swanson’s sister, Lesli Harvey, sobbed Friday and said, “The fractures go so deep in my family, I do not know how to repair them.”
Judge Schwartz, who regrets that he and his older brother drifted apart, urged family members to rectify their disagreements.
“That’s absolutely what your (father) wanted,” Schwartz replied.
Jeremy Swanson said on Friday that he had bought his dream house where his father moved into a boarding house eight weeks before he died.
“You took something special from me. You took something special from this world. “I hate you, Brandon,” Swanson said, trembling and breathing heavily. “I blame your parents too. I blame them for not being parents, but more as business partners who get a meal card. ”
Michael Andersen, son of Ricky Andersen, described his father as honest, loyal, fearless, strong and a friend to all – “everything a son could ask for.”
Robin Lancaster, Ricky Andersen’s ex-wife, said his death left her and others trying to run their air conditioner and negotiate debt with creditors. She also went through his property piece by piece and said that she developed PTSD as a result of the whole ordeal.
Family members asked Lancaster to pick out photos of Andersen to keep.
“Every picture with Brandon in it, I threw it in the trash,” she said.
Lancaster praised Barry Swanson, who was taught in court testimony, fought back against Martin even though he had the opportunity to flee.
“He died trying to save two men he barely knew,” she said. “Barry Swanson died like a hero.”
Harvey said her father was a wonderful friend.
“The kids were crazy about their papie,” she said. “I had two very young boys, only 2 and 3 years old, who were broken, and the only thing they could find was that their Papi was no longer their friend because he stopped coming over. They felt responsible for it. ”
She read a statement written by her now eight-year-old son, which was directed at Brandon Martin:
“Hey, you idiot. You took my dad. I hate you. You’re a poophead. ”