I am a Killer (2018) s01e04 Episode Script

Robert Shafer

It's difficult for me to go back and and try to quantify how I felt or what I was thinking.
To actually be able to put myself into the situation.
It always for a long time, I know, it seemed that I was looking at it from outside It just seemed like watching something on the screen.
Not as something that I was really experiencing.
My name is, uh, Miguel Angel Martinez.
I was convicted of capital murder.
And I was sentenced to death.
And I walked up, I fired one shot.
And as I got closer, I fired one more shot.
She was shot through the cheek and it stopped in her jaw.
I drove him around behind a desk and I stabbed him approximately 25 times.
I couldn't believe it.
I just thought I can't believe I just killed somebody.
I don't feel bad about it.
I started stabbing him, stabbing the guy on the couch.
I look back and I don't see myself having a very different life or experience than most average teenagers.
Going to school, meeting people, wanting to go out to parties.
I remember it was a, uh it was a weekday, but I think we were on vacation for something.
It was in the early afternoon that I saw Venegas, who I knew from school.
I had one class with him.
And he told me about a party that was supposed to be happening that night and about going to see Milo.
Milo Flores.
He was a person that I hung out with.
I would go to his house and we would go to parties together.
Venegas was 16 at that time.
Flores was 17, and I was 17.
Milo, basically, had his own apartment behind his parents' house.
His father was wealthy, at least in my eyes.
Milo had the means to get drugs that I didn't, so that was what joined us, that was smoking marijuana and doing cocaine.
Venegas had a tendency to do a lot and get very, very expressive.
He wasn't somebody that I necessarily enjoyed having around.
It might have been close to midnight.
He was very excited, he was uh, very uh, hyper, and he wanted to go do something.
Right then and there, go outside and stone a car, stone a house do something.
And that's what happened that night.
I can't say that there was a reason, that there was a planning or an intention, really, behind going to this particular house.
Milo and I had been there before, a couple of times.
And we had already used some keys to get into the house and take things out which we exchanged for drugs.
I knew the person that lived there, I knew he lived alone.
As a matter of fact, I had been working for him in the past.
I met him when I was 15 years old.
He took an interest in me.
It was, uh I think it can be considered him seeing somebody that needed a a father, or him seeing somebody that that was disadvantaged and trying to help.
I had been given keys to his house.
On several occasions, I've I actually stayed with him at night.
Uh Going to work the next morning, he was, uh he was my ride, I guess.
And so, uh, we decided to go to that house.
It was supposed to be what we had done before.
Nobody home, go in and take something and what Venegas was insistent on was doing some damage, tearing something up.
And so what we took with us were a baseball bat, an axe, and some knives.
Milo had dropped us off about two blocks away so that he could make a slow circuit, give him enough time to drive around and then come pick us up.
It was not supposed to take very long.
When we got to the house I had a bad feeling, I guess.
Venegas walks over to the house and when he came back, uh, he tells me there's somebody in the house.
Uh which was a surprise, a shock.
And My thoughts were to get away, my thoughts were, "I need to get get out of here.
" Everything had switched.
There was something that changed with him.
He was on a mission and It was not to go steal anything, it was not to go trash anything.
To him, he was on a mission for Satan.
Satan wanted their souls.
The reason that I didn't leave I was scared of him at that point.
In memory, things seem to go slow from that point on, and I can't really explain how the sequence happens or how long between one one memory or one flash of memory to the other.
But I remember standing over a guy, sleeping on the couch, which was a few feet away from the entrance.
I mean, I couldn't say how old he was, I couldn't say I even knew what he looked like.
Venegas had the axe.
And, um He hit him.
He hit him one time.
And uh, he had a knife, and I had a knife, and And he started stabbing, stabbing the guy on the, uh, on the couch.
I don't how long it took, I don't know how long it it really was.
It seems to have been something very quick and uh The part that I remember is Venegas looking up at me with the knife and telling me it was my turn.
And I had a folding knife and so I unfolded it and looked at the body that was laying there below me and I stabbed him and uh walked away.
Walked towards the back of the of the house where there was a sliding door that led into the back yard.
And I don't know how long I was out there.
It had to be enough time that when I came back in, Venegas was standing there.
What I didn't know was that, during that time that I was outside, he had stabbed one other person who was, uh, in one of the rooms.
Uh What I remember is saying that I wanted to leave and he told me to give him the axe.
And he walked back down the hallway into the back room.
I didn't see what he did.
Uh When he came back, uh, he told me there was there was a guy back there.
And that Satan wanted their soul.
We took one TV that was in the living room and his car.
And we drove.
We drove to Milo's house.
We drove down the street where he was supposed to be waiting but he wasn't there.
And so we went to his house and, uh He told me not to go in, that he was going to go talk to Milo.
And he came back.
I don't know how long it was.
From there, I remember going with Venegas, and going to other people's houses.
When I got home it was late afternoon.
And, uh, I never saw Venegas again.
I remember Milo telling me that, uh, he wanted to talk to me that night.
He was worried about Venegas saying something about him.
And That was the last time I spoke to Milo before I got arrested.
Sometimes, not even when we think about it.
Thank You, Lord, for Your miracles, in our lives and in our hearts.
Lord, fill us with Your spirit today.
But Lord, as the sermon comes My name is Jay Dickey, and this is First Baptist Church.
and we will be attentive to everything that Pastor Ben has to say.
Nobody would have thought, of all people, that Jim Smiley would be someone who would have been attacked like that.
We never actually take the time to share the gospel with people, don't do that.
James had a or "Jim," as we called him, had a really fabulous personality and a great gift of sense of humor and that kind of stuff.
Jim did some mission work in Nuevo Laredo with uh, this orphanage that he was helping some missionaries with.
He spent a lot of time going back and forth and using a lot of his own resources to to do that.
He just loved people so he was always involved in one way or another, uh, helping out with families who had needs but also with the youth group.
We had a fairly large youth group and Jim got really involved in that and in other parts of the church.
Nobody could believe that something like that would happen especially to James Smiley.
He'd give the shirt off his back to you to help you out if you needed it.
We lost uh, three people who had no reason to die whatsoever.
and then as we take the offering Well, as a Christian, I have to believe that anyone can be redeemed.
But there was a suggestion that there had been some kind of a satanic ritual first.
Forgive us It was an axe.
In Jesus name we pray, amen.
That's pretty extreme.
The tip of the iceberg, the tip of this of the pyramid on any police job is homicide, because you get to investigate the killing of another human being.
I'm going to make a right turn over here and then we're going to start going towards the house.
I'm trying to remember that day.
I was, you know, I was the only detective working at the time.
It was nighttime.
and my beeper started going, so I called the police station and they tell me, "Look, there are officers that had showed up to this house.
" They found dead bodies out there so he's requesting a homicide detective out there.
This is it.
So I just drove up to the scene here and of course, there were several police cars with the lights on already here and then, the first officer at the scene, he gave me a briefing what he saw inside the house, after that, I decide to walk inside the house.
What caught my attention was the level of violence that was used to kill these three people out there.
Their bodies, their heads were smashed.
They were hit, they were slashed, and in a way that the level of violence was incredible.
And apparently, everybody was asleep at the time.
The youngest victim, 14 years old, most likely put up a fight, and There were signs in the room that he actually struggled for his own life.
The other two victims, they were killed as they slept.
Another concerning thing that, uh In the master bedroom where the owner of the house was killed, there was a crucifix that was actually turned upside down.
Had the person responsible done that, as a sign? As you know, devil worshipping, or was it just as a prank? We had no idea.
By seeing that there was not a forced-entry type of issue It was, uh, you know the person responsible entered the house with a key.
You know, most of the homicides are committed by people who are known to the victim.
And one of the defendants, Miguel Martinez, turned out to be an ex-employee of Mr.
Smiley, who was the owner of the house.
The other one was Venegas, Miguel Venegas.
They were the two people responsible, directly responsible for the killings.
And of course, they had a third friend out there, who facilitated and loaned them what we call now the " murder weapons.
" And it became a huge issue here, that uh that was the son of a local district judge.
My name is Manuel Flores, and I'm a native Laradoan.
I've been a practicing attorney since 1975, Twenty years as a district judge, four years as a county court at law judge.
I never thought that the kinds of cases that I would hear that someday, those issues would visit me personally.
It was a morning and I was getting ready to go to work, and two police officers knocked on my door.
And, uh, as I recall, they told me, "You know, this axe murder that's been in the news, we understand the axe is here at your home.
" And of course I, I was shocked.
And uh so I enquired of my son, and "Son, did somebody borrow the axe?" And he said, "Yes.
" And, "Where is it?" and he said, "It's here by the woodpile.
" So, "Well, go get it.
" I got it and I gave it to them, no questions asked.
Come on, Crystal, good girl.
Then, I think it was, uh, Investigator Torres, asked me if he could interview my son.
I had this great fear that maybe he had been involved, that maybe he had done something.
But he explained that, uh, he may have been together with Martinez there at the house and then Venegas showed up or Venegas and Martinez showed up.
I don't remember exactly how it happened but in any event, he explained that they were talking about going to trash a house, to do something bad to someone who appeared to be good but was really bad.
And, uh, they asked him, "Why did they take your knife and why did they take the axe that was outside there in the uh, carport?" And he said, "Well, they wanted a gun but I told them no.
And since all they were going to do is trash the house, I thought nothing of it.
" And what I wanted to do was get rid of them because they were acting, uh, real strange.
" You know, my son had access to our guns, and later on, I found out that he lied to him to make up the story to not give him a gun.
He's a gentle, gentle person who would never hurt anybody.
Investigator Torres said, "Look, we know exactly what happened.
The two boys that committed those murders have both confessed and explained how it happened.
And based on the circumstances, your son could not have known what was going to happen.
" The facts are he left, and they themselves said they had not formulated the idea to kill anybody.
It was an idea that Venegas had after they entered and found out there were people sleeping in there and when they started to leave, that Venegas said something to the effect, "Let's go back and take their souls.
" But that was just the beginning of the story because my son testified that they had been at my house, and my son had given them a ride into that neighborhood where they committed the offense.
When that got in the paper, that gave rise to a lot of problems.
And, uh, people were talking, and the assumption was that I had used some kind of influence, uh, to save my son from being prosecuted.
And nothing could be further from the truth.
I would have preferred for him to be accused and face a jury of his peers and that he would have been declared innocent.
Because there were no facts that showed any guilt.
That's why I don't want him to get involved.
I don't want all the crazies out there to put him through the anguish and the agony that he had since 1991.
And I just want him to live a normal life and be done with this.
And I wish it would go away.
You get the first call.
You get there and you secure the evidence, secure the area, and you start investigating from zero.
These are the weapons that were used.
The axe is here.
This is this is what I call hands-on.
When you crack somebody's skull with that and the blood's squirting everywhere, crunching of the bone, these are hands-on weapons.
It takes a lot, you know.
You have to be really into what you're doing.
Yeah, it's not like, "I did it and I didn't know what I was doing.
" It's something that you do and then you go to the next room and you do it again, and then you go to the next room and do it again.
You know, it's actually like a continuing thing in your mind to do this evil thing.
One of the perpetrators said that the devil told him to go back and take their souls.
And you say, well, how could the devil be involved? Well I think this case could have been induced by drugs because apparently they were using some drugs and you can get an induced high that would create hallucinations and might create the voice.
In this case, I don't know.
I think you need to ask the one that did it.
If you believe in God, and God believes in the devil, you know that that the devil is out there.
Now what I'm about to tell you I stopped myself from telling anybody.
Because of parole, and what are they gonna think about me.
The warp in my mind happened when I was eight years old, seven or eight years old.
At eight years old I became um, convinced that I was the son of a devil.
In Juarez, there used to be a bunch of black widows.
You know, those, uh spiders, and I would tell myself, "If I'm the son of a devil, none of these spiders is gonna bite me.
" And I would fill up a jar of black widows and go catch them and uh, take off my shirt, be on the ground and I tell my friends, "I'm the son of the devil.
" And I'd just take off the put those black widows on my chest.
None of them ever bit me.
So I'm thinking, I'm convincing myself that I'm the son of a devil because of this.
That was a little phase that I went through and then as it came, it went.
I met Martinez in my sophomore year in pre-algebra class.
I didn't know Manuel Flores, I didn't know his dad was a judge.
It came out that one night we were, you know, snorting some lines.
and Manuel Flores, he kind of like hinted, "Hey, man, I'm always pulling out the coke.
" Which was true.
He was the one that had money.
We didn't have no money.
I don't like for anybody to say that to me.
I don't like mooching, you know? I don't like taking stuff from somebody.
So I said, "Hey, well what can we do you, you know? I mean, we ain't got no money.
" And it so happened that Martinez had a key to this house and, uh, they came up with the idea to go steal.
Because supposedly, this guy had a stash of money.
Because Martinez knew him.
I'm like, "Sounds all right, sounds good.
Sounds like a plan.
" I'm like, "Well, how are we going to scare this dude into giving us money?" Manuel Flores said, "You know, well, I got a gun.
" I'm like, "Okay, so" You know, I'm wired up! I'm "Let's go do it!" Because I want some more cocaine.
And Manuel's like, "Well, hold on.
" And he takes off and comes back and says, "Nah, well, my dad put the gun in the locker and locked it.
" And I say, "Well, lend me your your knives.
" He was always sharpening some knives that he had.
I said, "Take me to your shed," right? So, we go to this shed.
And I'm looking, and there's an axe.
And there's a there's a bat.
I said, "Well, yeah, we'll take that, and we'll take a bat.
" And I said, "Well why don't why don't we just kill the dude, then?" "Ah, tsk.
You won't do that.
" I come from a machista culture.
A dare is a dare.
I had been doing some hallucinogens during the day.
And, uh well, add the cocaine to that.
But I still I still kind of knew what I was doing, you know? He gives us a ride and he takes off.
So we go to this place and we looked through the windows and I see that there's there's three dudes in here.
And now, everything's changed.
"Oh, man, we should go.
" And I'm like, "We can't go anywhere.
" And it seeps in my mind, I have to kill these three people.
And then I remember, when I was younger, with the spiders.
I saw it as a sign.
And I say, "More souls to the devil.
" So we go to the guy.
He's on the couch and he's asleep.
And I got the axe.
And I'm just like thinking about it and I'm like but I'm high, too.
And at the same time, I want to pump myself up to do it.
And the guy wakes up.
He wakes up and he looks at me.
And he goes back to sleep.
And I'm thinking to myself, "Oh, the devil's got my back.
" That's what I became convinced of.
I strike him with the axe.
And then I don't know whether I left the axe on his head, or I took it off and put it to the side and I started stabbing him in the chest.
Martinez said that, uh, he only stabbed the guy one time.
I don't know if he did or not.
I don't know if it was one time, two times, three I was focused on something else.
I was thinking, "I need to get out of here.
I need to kill these people and get out of here.
" That's what I was thinking.
Before long, I see that Martinez is not there anymore.
And later on I came to find out that he went outside to puke.
He comes back in and he's like, "Man, I don't want to do this.
" I said "Hey, don't step out of this house again until we do this or the devil's gonna kill us.
" That's what was in my head.
That's what I believed.
That's what I thought.
I said, so I said, "Look.
Just go to the side, man.
I'll take care of the rest.
" I went to the kid's I didn't know he was a kid, until I got in there started stabbing him in the stomach.
And, uh, I heard his voice, "Hey, man," he told me, "Hey, man, hey, man.
" and I'm like And then I've seen him and he's a kid.
I go next door to where Smiley was sleeping.
I did this I got the axe, chopped him in the head and Uh And that was it.
We didn't find no money.
We took a TV, a VCR, little rings, or whatever the hell.
I turned some crucifixes upside-down.
Uh And we took the car.
And I was happy.
Because I was not gonna die.
That was the main reason why I did that.
Whether it makes sense to anybody, it made sense to me.
I took three lives.
I did that.
I can't lie.
I can't say that I did not do something so heinous.
And the 41 years that were given to me is just like a little slap in the hand.
I said, "Even if I do the whole time, which probably is gonna happen, even if I do the whole time, it won't pay for one life, man.
" I can't say that there was a reason or that there was a planning or an intention really behind going to this particular house.
I knew the person that lived there, I knew he lived alone.
Uh, as a matter of fact, I had been working for him.
It was supposed to be what we had done before.
Nobody home, go in, and take something and what Venegas was insistent upon was doing some damage, tearing something up.
I don't remember uh, I don't remember it like that.
He seems to have selective memory.
I mean, we all do.
I'm not trying to transfer him 'cause we're in it together.
He came up with the idea to go to that house.
He knew what we were gonna do.
We share the blame.
Whether he accepts the fact, or whether he, "I thought he was kidding or" No! You participated.
And, uh, he doesn't mention anything, or he doesn't go into detail as to his relationship to, uh, Mr.
He doesn't even want to say his name.
Now, when we're in the house, and I asked him, "Well, who's this guy?" "Ah, man.
He's just some faggot!" That's what he said.
"He's a faggot.
" Smiley was a pedophile.
At least that's what my lawyer told me, the first lawyer that I had.
And I'm so young, I said, "What the hell is a pedophile?" He said, "Man, I have families willing to testify in court that, uh, Mr.
Smiley messed with their kids.
" I don't know what kind of a story Martinez told you all, but, uh, he had lived with this man.
Uh, my name is Joe Rubio.
I was the district attorney for 20 years here in Webb County.
I was the lead prosecutor, prosecuting the capital murder case against Miguel Angel Martinez.
There have been a lot of rumors about, you know, James Smiley and there was never any evidence to substantiate that at all.
On the contrary, everyone that we interviewed, uh thought that Not only thought, but believed in Jim Smiley, that he was an outstanding, you know, citizen.
I don't know if some people do it maliciously.
They just pass on, they just want to gossip.
And you know, they perpetuate those rumors.
For me to even have to comment and say that he wasn't involved in improper activities still casts a shadow on him and we have we never had any evidence of that whatsoever.
Other than he was dedicated to his family, his church, and on his work.
After Miguel Angel Martinez received the death penalty Uh, he was one of the youngest defendants on death row.
We had offered Martinez in return for his plea of guilty, uh, a life imprisonment.
He didn't want to take that plea, so he forced us to trial.
And when we went to trial, he got the death penalty.
We had gotten a lot of a lot of communications from a lot of people.
Uh And so, we sat down, and I decided that, although we had been successful in achieving a capital murder conviction, I didn't think that it was fair for him to get the death penalty, and the co-defendant, who we felt was more culpable, who was more of the instigator, could not, under the law, get the death penalty.
So, we agreed to commute his sentence.
They came up with the idea to go steal.
And I said, "Well, why don't why don't we just kill the dude, then?" "Ah, tsk.
You won't do that.
" I come from a machista culture.
A dare is a dare.
Well, I don't want to speculate, you know, as to, you know, whether it happened or not.
I guess you'd have to, it's a fact situation as to what the, you know, what type of credibility that person had.
You know? I mean, how long have you known him? How long have you been around him? The evidence shows that there was drug use during that day.
A lot of drug use, a lot of drinking alcohol.
And, uh, you know, a lot of times people say things, and they don't really mean it, they're you know, just you know, boasting.
I believe that they actually formed their intent once they got there when Venegas says "The devil wants their souls.
" That's when they turned around to go back into the home and committed the homicides.
Our position was, that's where they formed the intent.
Uh, the Flores kid did not go over there with them.
He was never there.
The case was presented to a grand jury.
They took a look at all the evidence, and they decided that they felt that there was evidence to indict Venegas and Martinez, but not Milo Flores.
Later on, it was looked at by the Texas Rangers.
Uh, the FBI took a look at it as well, and no other charges.
Nobody else came up with a different conclusion.
I don't think I ever said that Milo was specifically responsible for anything.
And that's not to say that he wasn't, and that there isn't something.
I have a life sentence.
Milo has no sentence.
My perspective is, and has been, trying to equate what he is responsible for, with what I am responsible for.
Trying to bring into alignment, how he was treated, and how I was treated.
Trying to find some some equality.
Um He seems to have selective memory.
I mean, we all do.
I had been doing some hallucinogens during the day but I still I still kind of knew what I was doing, you know.
I took three lives.
I did that.
I can't lie.
I can't say that I did not do something so heinous.
And the 41 years that were given to me is just like a little slap on the hand.
It's a little amazing to me.
It's just, uh I mean, I want to say I'm taken aback by, just the fact that you were able to speak with him.
You say Venegas has found peace where he can confess and admit now, after he has a 41-year sentence, to everything that he would not admit or speak of before then.
A 41-year sentence.
I can say a lot of things.
I I don't have that.
I have a life sentence.
I think, no matter what I say, no matter how I deal with it, that's a reality.
And so you ask me certain questions, they don't obviate that reality.
You know, so it's It's not possible to really answer some of your questions, you know, as a catharsis for me because there's a reality that once I step away from here that I still have to face.
They came up with the idea to go steal.
'Cause supposedly, this guy had a stash of money.
Because Martinez knew him.
No, that's a lie.
So he's either completely ignorant, or he's just straight lying to you.
And I said, "Well, why don't why don't we just kill the dude, then?" "Ah, tsk.
You won't do that.
" I come from a machista culture.
A dare is a dare.
I don't even know where to start.
I mean, I don't even know how to I don't have all the answers.
I don't know what they said.
I was really outside the bubble.
And that's why so much of it, it doesn't really make sense to me, and it's difficult trying to to reach back and give a motive and a reason to something that only Venegas and only Milo can.
I mean, what you have, from your own investigation, from your own conversations, 25, 27 years after, it might approach the truth but it's still not going to be the full truth.
Because some people are still not going to admit to what is painful for them to admit.
And that's the reality, that's life.
They were talking about going to trash a house to do something bad to someone who appeared to be good but was really bad.
What does it mean? I think it's very clear what it means.
I think the question is, "What is the bad?" There are still some things that that I personally haven't completely dealt with.
I've dealt with them to to be able to move on, to To not have them be a an anchor around my neck.
But it's just, uh It's like, it's just a longer chain, you know, and the anchor is still there.
For so many years, it seems like, uh the way for me to deal with this has been to, uh, take myself and put myself to the side and think about the the other people involved and And in a way, just accept that whatever happens to me is, uh is just a small thing.
And I can handle that, and I'll deal with it.

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