A Sept. 14 trial date was set Friday for an ex-minor league baseball player accused of fatally beating his father, uncle and a bystander inside a Corona home.
Brandon Willie Martin, 27, allegedly used a baseball bat to kill the victims on the evening of Sept. 17, 2015.
Martin is charged with three counts of first-degree murder with a special circumstance allegation of taking multiple lives in the same crime, as well as auto theft, evading arrest, obstructing a peace officer and injuring a police canine.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty.
During a status hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice, Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz inquired whether the prosecution and defense will be ready to proceed to trial in mid-September, and the two sides tentatively agreed to prepare for proceedings.
However, a motion to postpone may be made at a Sept. 4 pretrial conference. Martin is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
According to evidence presented during a 2016 preliminary hearing, Martin had been experiencing unspecified psychiatric issues and was admitted to the Riverside County Department of Mental Health’s emergency treatment facility on County Farm Road on Sept. 15, 2015, for an evaluation.
Martin’s admission came after he’d allegedly made threats of physical injury against his father, 64-year-old Michael Martin.
The younger Martin was released from the facility two days later, and allegedly went straight to his father’s residence in the 1000 block of Winthrop Drive, arriving shortly after 6 p.m.
The elder Martin was at the property with his brother-in-law, 51-year-old Ricky Lee Anderson of Corona, and an ADT alarm company technician, 62-year-old Barry Swanson of Riverside, who was there for an installation consultation, police said.
The defendant allegedly 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, Brandon Martin allegedly stole Swanson’s 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 F-150 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 first round of that year’s Major League Baseball draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, the 38th overall selection.
Martin played three seasons of minor league baseball with a career .211 average. He was released by Tampa Bay on March 26, 2015. Martin has no documented prior felony convictions.