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Las Vegas jury convicts man in 2012 murders of girl, mother

Updated November 28, 2017 - 7:12 pm

A Las Vegas man was convicted Tuesday of raping and murdering a mother and her 10-year-old daughter in a bloody 2012 attack that nearly killed the woman’s husband.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Bryan Clay, who fatally bludgeoned Ignacia “Yadira” Martinez, 38, and her daughter, Karla, with a claw hammer.

Arturo Martinez, whose wife and daughter were killed, was in court when the verdict was announced.

“I forgive him,” the man later said. “But I also want justice for Karla and Yadira.”

Clay, 27, showed no emotion as District Judge Douglas Herndon read the guilty verdict to the packed courtroom. The defendant stared ahead, holding his thumb to his chin and stroking it with a long fingernail.

The trial’s penalty phase is scheduled to begin at noon Wednesday.

Arturo Martinez said Clay is facing the consequences of his crimes.

“If we let him go, it will happen to another family,” he said.

The testimony

During the four-week trial, Arturo Martinez testified that he awoke in a daze in the family’s Las Vegas home on Robin Street and saw his wife lying motionless in the doorway.

Bludgeoned with the same hammer used to kill his wife and daughter, he then made his way toward Karla’s body. He pressed his fingertips over both victims’ eyes, which remained open.

His two sons, Cristopher, then 9, and Alejandro, then 4, were unharmed.

Adjusting his glasses outside the courtroom on Tuesday, Arturo Martinez said the last five years have been all about faith. He underwent multiple brain surgeries and still has headaches as a result of the attack. He compared the verdict to traveling from one side of a river to another.

“I am on the other side,” he said. “I’ve been in the water, and now I’m starting to feel the firm earth.”

He said now he can have closure from the brutal attack, which left him with only partial vision in his right eye and injuries to his brain. With the verdict, he can now enter another chapter in his life, he said.

Arturo Martinez’s sister, Gaudia Martinez-Seal, said the trial will help the family move forward.

“We can close this page now,” she said.

Her brother, who works as a union electrician, has remarried and sold the house on Robin Street. Martinez-Seal’s 19-year-old son, Jesus, is like a third brother for the boys, she said.

“They call themselves The Three Musketeers,” she said. “I say, ‘I’m the fourth!’ I do my best to fill that space.”

Cristopher, now 15, told jurors during the trial that he “saw a puddle of blood” on the morning of April 15, 2012. He also saw his father, bleeding from his head and unable to speak.

Through tears, Cristopher testified that his father periodically fainted and threw up throughout the day.

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

The family did not have a cable to charge their phones and call for help. Cristopher went to school the next day, crying with his hands in his face.

“My mom and sister are dead,” he told his fourth-grade teacher at Hoggard Elementary School. “They’ve been murdered.”

The evidence

Clay was arrested within 10 days of the attack. He told police he was drunk and high on ecstasy and PCP at the time and did not recall the killings.

Detectives tracked him down using phone records that linked him to a stolen phone after investigating a sexual assault on a 50-year-old woman that occurred less than a mile from and within hours of the killings.

Clay was found guilty Tuesday of kidnapping and robbing the woman, but he was acquitted of the related sexual assault charge.

His defense for the murders centered around the victims’ neighbors, who sometimes blocked the Martinez driveway with their vehicles and had done so the night of the killings. One of his attorneys, Tony Sgro, raised questions about why investigators did not test a condom and bloody napkin found at the home of the neighbors, who he said had an ongoing feud with the Martinez family.

Prosecutors argued that Clay’s DNA was found on the homicide victims’ bodies.

He was convicted of seven counts related to the attack on the Martinez family, including charges of sexual assault, murder, attempted murder and burglary.

After hearing the final guilty verdict, Clay folded his hands and put them in front of him. He stood up, pulled a multicolored tie off his neck, and was escorted out of the courtroom.

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