Former Tampa Bay Rays prospect Brandon Martin has avoided the death penalty but will spend life in prison for the 2015 murders of his father, uncle, and an alarm installer. Martin's family was having a house alarm installed in their Corona, Calif., on Sept. 17, 2015, when Martin, the 38th overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft, killed his wheelchair-bound father Michael Martin, uncle Ricky Andersen, and alarm installer Barry Swanson with a baseball bat inscribed with his own name, reports the Los Angeles Times. Two days prior, Martin had been placed on a mental-health hold after admitting to police that he choked his mother. She may have been his saving grace. As the final witness to take the stand during the penalty phase of the trial Tuesday, Melody Martin said "to lose another member of my family ... would be a dagger in my heart," per the Times.
The jury, which found 27-year-old Martin guilty of three counts of first-degree murder on Nov. 5, returned a verdict of life in prison without parole on Thursday, per Yahoo Sports. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, arguing Martin's actions were the result of drug use. Defense attorneys said Martin, who played three seasons in the minors before his release from the Rays in early 2015, suffered from untreated schizophrenia. Though a psychologist who met with Martin in the weeks before the killings said he saw no signs of the condition, a psychiatrist who reviewed his medical history determined Martin has a "very severe case." "We heard him arguing. But nobody was there. The next day we'd see punches in the walls in his bedroom," his mother testified. His brother, Sean, said the athlete believed he was speaking to dead relatives. "It was a ticking time bomb," he said. (Read more murder stories.)