A former rising baseball star has been sentenced to life in prison for beating his disabled father, uncle and another man to death with a baseball bat in 2015.
Brandon Martin, who was a first-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft for the Tamper Bay Rays, was facing the death penalty because of the grizzly nature of the murders.
On Thursday, the jury deliberated for four hours and decided to spare his life and hand him life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Former Tampa Bay Rays baseball star Brandon Willie Martin (pictured playing for the Rays in 2012) has been sentenced to life in prison for the brutal triple murder of his father, his uncle and an alarm installer – with a baseball bat – who was called in to help protect the family against the former MLB player
Martin, 27, was found guilty of three counts of murder earlier this month for killing father Michael Martin, 64, his brother-in-law Ricky Lee Anderson, 51, and Barry Swanson, 62, in Corona, California, in 2015, with a bat engraved with his own name.
Swanson – an ADT home alarm installer – was at the family’s home in Corona because ‘the family feared Brandon Martin,’ the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release. Martin’s cousin found the bodies.
Earlier that day, police had taken Martin to hospital for a psych evaluation, but he was released the same day as the killings.
The day following the murders, he reportedly led police on a chase, but was eventually apprehended.
The District Attorney’s Office had been seeking the death penalty for the sports star who previously received a $1million signing on bonus when he was first drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays.
After finding Martin guilty on November 4 of first degree murder and found the special circumstances of multiple murders to be true, he was eligible for the death penalty.
In the following days, the same jurors heard several days of evidence and testimony in the penalty phase of the trial to determine whether to recommend Martin be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
These were the only two options in a special circumstance murder case, according to the District Attorney. He is now scheduled to return in January 2021 to be sentenced by a judge.
But the victims’ families are suing the county for negligence after they assessed his mental health and ruled he did not need further treatment, hours before the attack.
The District Attorney’s Office was seeking the death penalty for the sports star, but the in the end decided to spare his life and hand him life in prison for the 2015 triple-murder
Martin, a star shortstop at Corona High School, played in the minor league in 2011 where coaches considered him reserved.
But off the field, he was making full use of his lavish new lifestyle as a mere 18-year-old, holding regular parties in his $6,000 a month 6,700-square-foot home.
Police were called 19 times to his home, recording loud parties with guests under 21, drug use, urinating on nearby lawns, half-naked women, brawls with baseball bats and ‘blood everywhere’.
Martin had also received $144,000 for college in his contract after he was drafted as the 38th overall pick by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Police arrested him twice for disturbing the peace at his parties, which the court heard was ‘a veritable bacchanalian and debauched existence’, the Press Enterprise reported.
In the 2012 minor league season, Martin continued to play well and rented a five-bedroom house in the Eagle Glen Golf Club community in Corona where the drug parties continued, the court heard.
Pictured in court: Brandon Willie Martin, 27, appears on court as the jury decides life in prison for Corona man, found guilty of three 2015 murders
He injured his thumb the following year and was assigned to the Bowling Green Hot Rods, a Minor League team.
But he was ultimately sent home after failing three drug tests for marijuana and he also hurled abuse at his coaches.
The trial brief said: ‘These coaches, with decades of experience, stated it was the worst behavior they had ever seen from a player.’
But the trouble continued when he assaulted his brother at home, injuring his finger, and he was released by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2015.
He moved back home having spent all his money, but he became resentful towards his parents who were supporting him.
Martin, who is mixed-race, also resented his skin colour and used a skin lightener, the court heard.
During his arrest, Martin punched police dog Dex (pictured) several times and slammed its head on the concrete, the court heard
He focused his anger on his father, who is black, targeting him with racial slurs and even once punching him in the head, even though he was wheelchair-bound.
After choking his mother and threatening her with a pair of scissors, the family called an intervention and reported him to the police in September, 2015.
Officers decided to take him in for a 72-hour mental health examination rather than arrest the youngster.
The family claim Martin was not diagnosed or treated, and was released early from the test to free up a bed.
The county said Martin was given a psychiatric evaluation and doctors diagnosed him with a mood disorder and drug abuse, but concluded he did not need to be detained.
After being released, he was told his family did not want him home but he headed straight there after being prescribed a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant.
Immediately upon arriving home, Martin smashed his father’s head with the black baseball bat, killing him instantly.
Barry Swanson, a technician installing an ADT security system intended to keep Martin away, tried to stop the attack but he was also battered with the bat and died.
Martin’s uncle Ricky Andersen also tried to intervene but also ended up being beaten before his body was dragged into the garage, and he died in a coma two days later.
Martin then stole the victims’ wallets and phone, and took Swanson’s Ford Raptor pickup truck and went out for dinner, and hid until he was arrested the following day.
During a chase, he also punched a police dog Dex several times and slammed its head on the concrete, the court heard.
He then claimed he was innocent and had returned home to find the bloody scene and was not involved.
Martin’s defense lawyer, T. Edward Welbourn, said his drug abuse and psychotic episodes clearly impacted his mind, and his client does not deserve the death penalty.
District Attornry Mike Hestrin said his office believes the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating mental health issues.
The victims’ families are suing Riverside County for negligence, saying Martin was not properly assessed in the mental health facility.