“Hi, do you have an ID?”
That routine question to Janelle Monroy from a Sacramento sheriff’s deputy cruising a Motel 6 parking lot triggered a daylong rampage three years ago that left two officers dead – one in the motel parking lot, another on an Auburn street 29 miles away.
Now, new details of the Oct. 24, 2014, crime spree are emerging in court documents that portray Monroy as a terrified victim of her abusive, methamphetamine-smoking husband, Luis Bracamontes.
Bracamontes, a Mexican citizen who had repeatedly entered the United States illegally over the years, faces the death penalty if convicted in the killings. His wife, an American citizen, faces life in prison.
The two have appeared in court hearings together since the shootings, but Bracamontes’ public defenders now are asking to split the case into two trials, saying Bracamontes can’t get a fair trial if her statements to detectives are used against him.
They also contend that Monroy’s attorney, Peter Kmeto, plans a battered woman’s syndrome defense to argue, in essence, that she was Bracamontes’ first victim.
A hearing before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White on the issue is scheduled for Sept. 22, and prosecutors Rod Norgaard and Dave Tellman are opposing the effort to hold separate trials.
The case is not expected to go to trial until January, but detective interviews with Monroy the day she was arrested are revealing new details of the crime spree that killed Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer County Sheriff’s Detective Michael Davis Jr.
The couple, who have been together 17 years, had driven to Sacramento from their home in Utah, leaving behind their cats and dogs.
“When we left Utah he was the driver,” Monroy told investigators after the slayings. “I sat in the front seat.
“He would keep one gun on his lap and another one on the door. When we left it scared the crap out of me because he was smoking meth and he was smoking weed and he drank a lot of alcohol. He drank six beers.
“It would scare me because he would just turn around and look at me.”
Monroy told investigators that Bracamontes had become convinced she was having an affair with his brother, Hector, who had been living in their home.
“His suspicions have been going on for a couple of years,” Monroy told detectives. “I did cheat on him with a couple of girls.”
By the time the couple left Utah, they had begun smoking meth, Monroy said, and initially planned to drive to Las Vegas or Oregon.
But Bracamontes’ behavior was erratic.
At one point, he accidentally fired off one of his three guns inside the car, and the bullet lodged in a door. Later, as they passed through Wendover, Nev., he ordered Monroy to toss their cellphones and iPad out the passenger window of their car.
“He thought we were being tracked,” she said, according to court records. “I asked him by what, because we hadn’t done anything.
“I think the drugs were causing his hallucinations.”
As they drove, first passing through Reno and then aimlessly driving around Carson City, Bracamontes’ paranoia grew, she said.
He threatened to sell her into sexual slavery in Nevada, and forced her to take off her clothes as they were driving, court papers say.
At times, she said, Bracamontes would go into restrooms after Monroy used them to make certain she hadn’t left any sort of note behind.
By the time they arrived in Sacramento, Monroy said, she had attempted to hide or throw away her husband’s ammunition and weapons but had failed.
When Deputy Oliver and his partner, Scott Brown, arrived at the Motel 6, Bracamontes had two pistols and a rifle in their light blue Mercury Grand Marquis, she told detectives.
Bracamontes was inside the car as Oliver approached, and Monroy was standing outside at the car trunk when Brown walked up and asked for her identification.
“I closed the trunk,” she said. “I reached back to give him my ID and when I reached back I heard, ‘boom, boom, boom … ,’ ” she said.
Monroy said she dove into the car and Bracamontes roared off. Later, she said, Bracamontes began to talk about what happened.
“I didn’t want to shoot him; I didn’t want to shoot him,” she recalled him saying.
“Oh, my God. Who did you shoot?” she asked. “He goes, ‘The cop!’
“I said, ‘You shot the cop?’ And then I started losing it right there. I started crying and he told me to calm down.”
Bracamontes’ public defenders, Jeffrey Barbour and Norm Dawson, argue in court filings that introducing evidence of such comments would violate their client’s constitutional rights and that Monroy’s case should be severed from Bracamontes’ case.
Prosecutors oppose the request, citing case law that “is well settled that defendants are not entitled to severance merely because they may have a better chance of acquittal in separate trials.”
The reality of the situation is that Monroy is not the only person to have said Bracamontes admitted killing Oliver in the parking lot.
Bracamontes himself has said he killed both officers, repeating the claim in courtroom outbursts several times.
He also has complained that his case is taking too long, has threatened to kill his lawyers and has asked to be executed, behavior that led to his lawyers’ unsuccessful efforts to have him declared mentally incompetent to face trial.
His latest outburst came during a June court hearing during which he bellowed that he was glad he had killed Oliver and Davis and wanted to kill more.
“I’m going to kill all you motherf------ if I get the chance,” he said then.