Killer tells Las Vegas jury, ‘I hope God can forgive me’

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 05:45:52 AM. The man who raped and murdered a mother and her young daughter took the witness stand Monday morning with a prepared statement, ready to ask jurors to spare his life.

The man who raped and murdered a mother and her young daughter took the witness stand Monday morning with a prepared statement, ready to ask jurors to spare his life.

But Bryan Clay, 27, wanted to say more than what was on the piece of paper.

“If it wasn’t for my attorneys and my daughter, I would be begging you all for death,” he said. “If my mom wasn’t sitting back there.”

Clay spoke on the fourth day of his trial’s penalty phase. Last week, the same jury convicted him of raping and murdering Ignacia “Yadira” Martinez, 38, and her 10-year-old daughter, Karla, in an April 2012 attack that nearly killed the woman’s husband.

Prosecutors are seeking a death sentence.

Clay told police that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and had no recollection of the killings. The victims were beaten with a claw hammer.

Before he took the stand Monday, the jury watched a video of his 5-year-old daughter, with white barrettes in her hair, drawing a picture for her dad.

In the picture, she is reaching to put a star on a Christmas Tree. She is falling, she tells her mom, and her daddy is catching her. She asked for lipstick.

“So I can kiss my picture,” she said.

Clay smiled as he watched his daughter on screen in the courtroom, telling her mom that she loves her dad. If she weren’t able to see him, she said, she would miss his smile.

In his statement, Clay, in a voice muffled by tears, thanked his attorneys, Tony Sgro and Christopher Oram, for the time they took to earn his trust.

He thanked the prosecutors for “doing their job.”

And he turned to the all-women jury: “I thank you for your verdict and your appreciation for the facts as they have been.”

He also said the Martinez family has been in his prayers.

“These actions have caused so much pain,” he said. “I don’t know how to explain my regret and my remorse in this situation. All I can do is express my love.”

Clay also expressed gratitude for the victim’s relatives, who have publicly forgiven him, and said he understands that they want justice. He told the jury how hard it is for him to pick up a piece of paper and read the name ‘Martinez.’

“I try to accept the forgiveness from this family, but I don’t feel like they should forgive me,” he said.

Thinking back to when he was arrested for the crimes, Clay told the jury, “I was crazy. I wanted to kill myself. They put me in a cell, no clothes, no TV. Just isolated.”

At one point in his statement, Clay became so overwhelmed with emotion that District Judge Douglas Herndon excused the jury so that Clay, who had begun to stray from his prepared statement, could compose himself.

“Man, God bless this court and everybody in it,” he told Herndon after the jury left.

The judge responded, “I’ll let you make that statement.”

When the jury returned, Clay was composed. He said he hopes to finish school while he’s in prison and participate in work programs.

“I will never forget my daughter’s voice. I live to watch her grow,” he said. “I want to live my life with my daughter and give her her anything, even if it’s just love for the rest of my life.”

He ended by telling the jury: “I heard God’s forgiveness is limitless, and I hope God can forgive me. I hope that everybody else can forgive me.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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

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