The biracial former minor league baseball player who allegedly “hated that he was Black” was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for killing his Black father, his father’s brother-in-law and a bystander in 2015.
Shortly after 6 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2015, Brandon Willie Martin, 27, went to his father’s home in Corona, California and used a baseball bat to beat to death his father, 64-year-old Michael Martin, 51-year-old uncle Ricky Lee Andersen of Corona, and 62-year-old Barry Swanson of Riverside, who was installing a security system at the home to keep Martin out.
“Immediately upon arriving at the home, Brandon smashed his wheelchair-bound father’s head in with a baseball bat, killing him instantly,” court records say. “The ADT alarm installer, Barry Swanson, tried to stop the attack. Brandon then attacked Swanson with the baseball bat, killing him as well. Ricky Andersen tried to intervene to stop the attack. Brandon beat Andersen with the baseball bat, and dragged him into the garage.”
Martin had just been released from the Department of Mental Health’s emergency treatment facility, where he was admitted after making threats against his father.
The elder Martin and Swanson died at the scene, and Anderson died two days later.
Martin was spotted by police early the next morning driving Swanson’s pickup truck, which he had stolen after the attack.
After officers utilized intervention maneuvers to stop Martin, he ran out of the car and broke into a woman’s home while she was still inside. Martin was then taken into custody and the woman was not injured.
Last week, the Riverside jury deliberated for less than a day before convicting Martin. The jury also agreed that a special circumstance allegation of killing three people at once, was also true. Martin was also convicted of auto theft, evading arrest, obstructing a peace officer and injuring a police canine.
The penalty phase of the trial will begin Monday. Martin may face the death penalty. His attorney T. Edward Welbourn said he shouldn’t face the death penalty because he suffers from mental illness.
The victims’ families filed a lawsuit against Riverside County for negligence, claiming Martin should not have been released from mental health detention so soon.
The Santiago High School graduate and star shortstop was drafted in the second round of the MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, then played in the minor leagues until he was released from his contract in March 2015.
Martin them moved back in with his parents, with whom he had a poor relationship. According to the lawsuit, Martin had a “racially charged” hatred of his father.
Court documents state that he “hated that he was Black” and used skin lightener. On several occasions, Martin would use racial slurs against his disabled, wheelchair-bound father and punch him in the head.
He had also held scissors against his mother’s neck and choked her.
A police officer investigated Martin for punching his father in the head multiple times in 2014, but the officer did not make an arrest out of fear it would hurt Martin’s baseball career, a family lawsuit claims.