Final Witness Called in Penalty Phase of Triple-Murder Trial

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The final witness in the penalty phase of the trial of a former minor league baseball player who fatally bashed his father, uncle and a bystander in Corona testified Monday, setting the stage for closing arguments in the case Tuesday.

Brandon Willie Martin, 27, killed 64-year-old Michael Martin, along with the elder man’s brother-in-law, 51-year-old Ricky Lee Anderson of Corona, and 62-year-old Barry Swanson of Riverside, on the evening of Sept. 17, 2015.

Martin was convicted two weeks ago of three counts of first-degree murder, and the Riverside jury found true a special circumstance allegation of taking multiple lives in the same crime, as well as further convicting him of one count each of auto theft, evading arrest, obstructing a peace officer and injuring a police dog.

The District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty. The trial’s penalty phase started a week ago at the Riverside Hall of Justice, where the defense and prosecution are slated to make final arguments Tuesday afternoon.

According to the prosecution, the defendant had been experiencing psychiatric issues and was admitted to the county Department of Mental Health’s emergency treatment facility on County Farm Road during the night of Sept. 15, 2015, for an evaluation. His admission came after he’d made threats against his disabled father.

Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham said the younger Martin was contending with drug addiction problems, and he was frequently hostile toward his parents, who were preparing to permanently evict him from their home.

The defendant was released from the treatment center after two days and went straight to his family’s residence in the 1000 block of Winthrop Drive, arriving shortly after 6 p.m.

The elder Martin was at the property with Anderson and Swanson, an ADT alarm company technician who was there for an installation consultation, stemming directly from concerns about safety following the defendant’s threats.

Brandon Martin grabbed a baseball bat inside the house and went on a rampage, pummeling all three men. Michael Martin and Swanson died at the scene, but Anderson lingered in a coma for two days before dying from his injuries.

After the attack, the defendant stole Swanson’s Ford Raptor pickup truck and hid out overnight.

According to Corona police Sgt. Brent Nelson, an off-duty officer spotted the truck in the area of Lincoln and Mountain avenues early the next morning and attempted to stop it, but Martin fled onto Derby Street, dodging several patrol vehicles whose officers tried to disable the Ford using intervention maneuvers.

The defendant bailed out of the truck at the intersection of Darby and Buena Vista Avenue, near Foothill Elementary School, and darted into a home, where a woman was taking a shower.

Martin tried to escape by leaping from a second-story window but encountered a K-9 officer and his dog, culminating in a brief struggle before he was forcibly taken into custody, according to Nelson.

The woman was not injured.

The defendant graduated from Santiago High School in 2011 and was selected in the supplemental first round of that year’s Major League Baseball draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, the 38th overall selection. Martin played three seasons in the Rays’ minor league system before being released on March 26, 2015.

He had no documented prior felony convictions.

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