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Boy testifies in Las Vegas trial of man accused of killing his mother and sister

Updated November 16, 2017 - 8:25 pm

Cristopher Martinez awoke that morning in April 2012 to discover his younger brother had a bloody nose. He went to grab a tissue, opening his bedroom door.

“I just see a puddle of blood,” Cristopher, now 15, told jurors Thursday, stopping to wipe tears from his face as he recalled the April 15 morning that he turned into the hallway and saw his mom on the floor. His dad stood over her, visibly bleeding on his head and unable to speak. His sister was also dead.

Cristopher took the witness stand during the death penalty trial of Bryan Clay, who is accused of raping and killing Ignacia “Yadira” Martinez, 38, and the couple’s 10-year-old daughter, Karla.

As the teen spoke, Clay, wearing a lavender shirt and tie, sat next to his attorneys on the right side of the courtroom. He stared at the witness as the tears muffled Cristopher’s testimony.

“You tell me when you’re ready, OK?” District Judge Douglas Herndon asked, passing the young boy a box of tissues.

Cristopher testified that his father, Arturo Martinez, periodically threw up and fainted throughout the day that Sunday. He fell asleep on the couch and on the floor in his two sons’ rooms.

“He hugged me, and that’s it. He just hugged me,” Cristopher said. “I was trying to ask him what happened, and who did this, but he couldn’t answer.”

At the time, the family didn’t have a cable to charge their cellphones and call for help, he testified. Cristopher went back to his room.

“That’s when I first realized that this is real, and I started to cry,” he said. He told his younger brother their mom and sister were dead. “He didn’t really understand. He was just 4.”

The next morning, Cristopher, then 9, told his brother not to walk to his preschool. He got himself ready for school and walked to Hoggard Elementary School, where his fourth-grade teacher saw him sobbing and asked what was wrong.

“My mom and sister are dead,” he told her. “They’ve been murdered.”

A police officer took Cristopher home, where the police discovered the bloody scene. Arturo Martinez, who had fought off the attacker, suffered severe brain damage and was taken to University Medical Center. He wasn’t immediately able to make statements.

In the weeks since the trial started, prosecutors have argued that Clay broke into the family home on Robin Street in the early morning hours and used a claw hammer to attack the two, along with Arturo Martinez, while the boys slept through the nightmare.

Clay, now 27, was arrested within 10 days, after detectives tracked phone records linking him to a stolen phone following a sexual assault that occurred less than a mile from and within hours of the killings.

He told police he was drunk and high on ecstasy and PCP at the time and did not recall the killings.

His attorneys, Tony Sgro and Chris Oram, have challenged the minimal fingerprints linked to Clay, the lack of bloody shoe prints, and whether the 50-year-old sexual assault victim picked the right photo out of a lineup.

On Thursday, Oram suggested that the family’s ongoing feud with their neighbors, who sometimes parked their car in front of the Martinez’ driveway and had done so the night of the murders, could be another motive.

Detective Dean O’Kelley of the Metropolitan Police Department testified that it was an ongoing neighbor dispute, one that would be disproportional to the crime committed.

“You’ve seen people kill for what could fit in a crack pipe, right?” Oram asked him Thursday. “You’ve probably spent a good deal of time shaking your head, saying, ‘My goodness, for a $20 bag of weed? This is why somebody died.’ Murder makes no sense, doesn’t it?”

O’Kelley responded, “Sometimes it does.”

Oram berated O’Kelley for not testing the DNA on a bloody tissue or a condom located outside the home. He asked the detective why he didn’t further investigate why the family’s American bulldog, which Cristopher Martinez testified was a puppy that was sick and locked up at the time, didn’t bark at an intruder.

Oram argued there was no sign of forced entry, and he questioned whether all the doors in the home were locked, noting that Cristopher testified one of the locks on the front door was unlocked when he woke up, and he didn’t know how it got that way.

Clark County District Attorney Pam Weckerly argued that didn’t make a difference.

“If we know that the doors had been locked, would that change the fact that you had been told by the analysts that Clay’s sperm had been found on the two homicide victims?” She asked O’Kelley.

“No,” he responded.

The trial continues at noon Friday at the Regional Justice Center.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.

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