The Son of Sam of Southeastern Colorado wants out of prison. And he is paving the way at attempting to make it happen.
My support for the abolition movement has been tested this week having had to read and listen to the voice of the person who murdered my dear friend Larry Martinez in 1989 in first local news outlets: The La Junta Tribune, The Pueblo Chieftan, 9NEWS; then regional outlets, and then national outlets: NPR’s various shows. Even KGNU broadcast a report about the prison radio project.
“Sheesh” my older brother said, “He’s become a celebrity.”
The multiple reports say that Anthony Quintana is involved in founding a statewide prison radio project. It’s actually a great endeavor.
Painful was not to hear one mention of Larry juxtaposed with the adoration paid to Quintana. How were outlets to know about someone who no longer exists? Michel Martin of NPR’s All Things Considered came the closest by approximating a question asking Quintana if he had reconciled with Larry’s family. Quintana dismissed the notion by saying, “Well, that’s a tough area for me.”
Tough area for you?
In that NPR interview Quintana responds to Michel Martin’s questioning about reconciliation by saying, “I took a man’s life.” Huh?
What Quintana did was not a car accident. The act was not a moment of passion momentarily overtaking him. The extra planning, violence, intention, conviction to use rocks and bash and bash and bash Larry’s head in goes well beyond what most of us can imagine. He laughed at Larry’s suffering. During the murder he ordered an accomplice to contribute to the act. (Court summary is detailed at the end of this editorial. It’s gruesome.)
Think of Son of Sam, Ted Bundy. Yes. This is who Quintana is. The difference is, he was stopped.
According to court testimony during his trial, Quintana planned to murder someone-anyone-days before by attempting to buy a rifle on two separate days. When the attempts failed, he committed to using other means and in fact used whatever he had, a knife and rocks to bludgeon Larry’s head. And when Larry didn’t die while his body was being driven in his own car to be dumped in the desert “for animals to eat”, his head was further bashed in while being ordered to “die bitch.”
Quintana wasn’t done killing. It wasn’t through fantastic police work that Quintana was caught, but through the report of someone who accompanied those in Larry’s car the day of his murder whose guilt overtook him. Without that report and the refusals of the gun owner, someone else’s family would still be suffering 33 years later. And I can’t say how many.
One of those other families is mine. The day he was murdered Larry came to my family’s home to invite my little brother to go to La Junta with him, but my brother couldn’t. He told Larry how he had just run the Bolder Boulder and his legs were too sore to go anywhere. Larry pleaded, but Mars declined. Larry went on without him.
After the murder Mars never really smiled again. Was never the same.
And it doesn’t even stop there. Quintana further fought imprisonment by attempting to have three statements that he made during the murder that showed his planning and intention. The attempt went to the Court of Appeals and later expended the resources of the Colorado Supreme Court. The Court ruled against him and for the allowance of all three statements.
No surprise that in interviews he says he stands with “those who engage in the struggle of liberation in abolishing this prison culture.”
In those interviews he says, “I have not been violent a day since I’ve been in prison.” I’m not sure if that’s true, but if it is, then I find it satisfying that incarceration works in his case anyway. Good that prison cured him from hurting other incarcerated people.
He goes on to say, “We are still whole human beings.”
A “human being” is not the phrase that comes to my mind when I think of Quintana. “Monster” does. “Inhumane” does.
According to court documents, he was never charged for the murder threat against the person who reported the crime, the theft of Larry’s money, the theft of Larry’s car.
In recent interviews Quintana talked only about his own suffering. No words of regret or genuine acceptance of responsibility that I heard. He talked about how he’s been incarcerated for 33 years, “Our whole freedoms are taken away from us. We’re incarcerated. We’re without being able to be with our families, my grandkids, those people that I love and care about.” Huh?
What about Larry’s grandkids which he’ll never have? No mention of those.
I think about how much Larry’s dad has suffered for 33 years and Larry’s late mother who suffered until she died. About Mike Jr., Gerald, Sister who continue to suffer the loss of Larry. They are incarcerated in their suffering forever. And it’s deep.
Just by chance I stopped off at Larry’s childhood home to visit with his father Mike Martinez about six months ago. He recognized me after not having seen me for over 45 years. Mike Martinez can tell you about tough. He continues to suffer and talked about Larry and Quintana while showing me pictures of Larry before Quintana murdered him. I hadn’t even raised the issue. He believes that Quintana is “never getting out.”
Think of the nicest, sweetest, most innocent, most happy, most helpful person you know. Then you know someone who comes close to Larry.
Not that it matters that Quintana viciously murdered a wonderful, wonderful person instead of an awful person in the eyes of the law, but Larry was wonderful.
I never realized it at the time and until this recent visit with his father that when Larry walked me home from elementary school (he and his brother Randy sometimes alternated) that they didn’t live close to us. They were going out of their way just to see me home. Asked nothing of me.
What is so hard to accept is hearing Quintana say how he’s contributed so much while in prison.
He’s smart. He’s done the research. He knows that over 95% of those incarcerated will be released at some point. He uses this figure in his defense.
This is a good thing that those 95% who receive training would have skills to find employment and have the chance to lead productive lives. I’m glad. Let those contributions continue to those who perhaps most need it.
He’s well-read. He’s read Bryan Stevenson, the director of the Equal Justice Initiative, “We’re more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” Colorado Representative Leslie Herod quotes that phrase too. He employs that phrase in interviews. When I think of that phrase I think of theft, forgery, tax evasion, all bad but not inhumane.
I just want the suffering of the Martinez family to stop. It won’t, but at least they can receive some sort of solace and comfort in knowing that the state’s commitment to them and to the public will be carried out as was promised 33 years ago. Officially he is eligible for parole in 2032 but he has made multiple attempts to garner an exception to that date by making multiple parole hearing requests. Those attempts have failed.
Others in the small southeastern Colorado community have stronger feelings than I and have voiced objection to the use of tax money to contribute to someone who caused so much suffering. One even called for the resignation of the director of the Department of Corrections who contributed to the development of the prison radio project.
I don’t take a position on those issues but I do have a message to Quintana: If you have reconciled and redeemed yourself then I am happy for those incarcerated who have reaped the benefits of your redemption. Be a positive role model for those who are coming after you and are in need of direction. Consider that to be your contribution to society.
Because of the minimizing of his actions (“I took a man’s life”), the expending of resources to fight his conviction, and most of all for dismissing the Martinez family and lack of a genuine apology to the public (he did, but in court prior to fighting his conviction) I believe he should continue his work in prison.
And my message to the public: Mass incarceration is a terrible thing. Let’s support and nurture the development of those incarcerated whom we will meet on the street someday. Let’s facilitate the ability to contribute positively to the general public that these people are capable of doing. Let’s foster this.
Before that, let’s provide people the resources they need to prevent a life of crime. There are many steps currently in the works to do just that.
But above all that, let’s not forget about the people who survived unspeakable acts. We owe them the ability to mitigate life after the jolt that they never deserved. We owe them the honoring of commitment to safety made to them by way of removing the opportunity that these people can hurt others. Ever.
That is what I’d most like to see.
Unedited excerpt taken from law.justia.com:
On May 29, 1989, defendant and Joe Allen Eubanks (Eubanks) arrived in La Junta, Colorado. That same day, they went to the home of Eddie Duran and attempted to purchase a shotgun so they could “snuff” someone. Duran refused to sell them a shotgun. Eubanks and defendant returned the next day, imploring Duran to sell them a shotgun so they could kill someone. Duran again refused. Defendant became upset and, as he was leaving Duran’s property, proclaimed that he would get a knife, take someone out to Higbee and “shank” the person there.
That evening, defendant and Eubanks met Russel Eloyd (Eloyd). The three men had just begun to look for a ride when Lawrence Martinez (Martinez) drove up and agreed to drive the group south of town to some property owned by Eubanks’ grandfather. Defendant and Eubanks directed Martinez to drive out of La Junta towards Higbee. After they drove some distance, Eubanks requested that Martinez pull over so he could go to the bathroom. Martinez complied and Eubanks and Eloyd got out of the Jeep.
Once out of the vehicle, Eloyd heard Martinez scream. As he turned around, he saw Martinez holding his neck and blood seeping through his fingers. Martinez jumped out of the Jeep and attempted to flee, but defendant followed and continued to stab him. Martinez fell to his knees and began to pray and beg for his life. In response, defendant kicked Martinez in the face and defendant and Eubanks proceeded to beat Martinez while repeatedly yelling “Die, bitch.” Eubanks then slammed a large rock into Martinez’ head and encouraged defendant to do the same. Defendant complied and pummeled Martinez in the head with a rock. Eloyd testified that, while laughing, Eubanks and defendant threw three or four rocks apiece at Martinez’ head. At Eubanks’ command, Eloyd took money out of Martinez’ wallet and defendant snatched the money and put it in his pocket. Martinez was then put in the Jeep and defendant told Eloyd to drive.
As they were driving, Eloyd heard Martinez moaning and heard defendant ask for “something so I can hit him or stab him again.” Martinez, however, stopped moaning and Eubanks stated “We’re going to dump the body off … so the wolves and animals [can] eat him up.” Thereafter, Eubanks ordered Eloyd to turn off the road and stop. Martinez was taken from the Jeep and thrown on the ground where Eubanks and defendant resumed bludgeoning him with rocks. At this point, Eubanks ordered Eloyd to hit Martinez with a rock. Eloyd initially refused, but Eubanks yelled “Throw it or I’ll kill you.” Eloyd threw a rock at the victim.
*1370 Eventually, the three men left Martinez and drove into La Junta, parked the Jeep and wiped their fingerprints from the vehicle with their shirts. Eloyd went home and, the next day, reported the murder to the authorities. Subsequently, defendant was charged with first degree murder, felony murder during kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder, and crime of violence.
Defendant pled not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming that his extensive drug use and his use of LSD on the evening of the murder made him incapable of determining right from wrong. This issue was tried to a jury and defendant was found to be sane at the time the crimes occurred.
- Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress three statements made by himall of which expressed his desire to kill other persons not involved in the crimes at issue. The first statement occurred when Eloyd was threatened by Eubanks if he did not join the attack. When this threat occurred, defendant interceded, stating, “Don’t worry about it. He’ll kill Troy Ketchum.” Defendant then told Eloyd to kill Ketchum. The second and third statements occurred as the three men were returning to La Junta. In the second statement, defendant said he wanted to go kill his former girlfriend “because she had his baby, and she was a dike, and he didn’t want his baby to grow up around her.” In the last statement, defendant said “Let’s go get some guns, and we’ll go kill Mr.the Wileys for some guns in Las Animas.”