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Penalty Phase Begins in Luis Bracamontes’ Trial

SACRAMENTO -- Luis Bracamontes was back in court Monday for the beginning of the sentencing phase of his trial.

In opening statements, the defendant waived his right to be in the courtroom. Judge Steve White allowed Bracamontes to return to his cell until witnesses were called.

The prosecution explained to the jury plans to let family members of Danny Oliver and Mike Davis speak about their loss, all in an effort to seek the death penalty.

Meanwhile the defense focused on Bracamontes' life before the October 2014 shooting, hoping to save his life and send him to prison for the rest of his days.

"There were concerns Mr. Bracamontes is working six to seven days a week," said defense attorney Norm Dawson.

For the first time, the jury heard about Bracamontes' childhood.

Growing up in a rural community in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, his attorneys said Bracamontes lived in a two-bedroom house with seven other siblings, no electricity nor running water, and no indoor or outdoor toilets.

"He grew up in a family with an alcoholic father and a mother who was continually sliding into depression," Dawson said.

Bracamontes' attorney also described how his client met and married his wife, Janell Monroy, moving to Arizona and then Utah to work with his brother, Hector, in Salt Lake City on their landscaping business.

But after the family was swindled out of money by a landlord who had stopped making payments to the bank, his wife soon started several affairs. Bracamontes' attorney said he fell into a depression and started using methamphetamines.

"What we want to present to you is what happened next as well, what the methamphetamines triggered in him," Dawson said.

The defense said it also plans on calling prison officials from Pelican Bay and San Quentin to testify that if Bracamontes were to be sent to prison for life, he would not be able to harm anyone else.

Starting Tuesday, the prosecution will begin with Oliver's family then Davis'. This process of the trial could take another month before Bracamontes is finally sentenced.