Defense, prosecution lay out their cases in Bracamontes sentencing
Prosecutors wrapped up their case against cop killer Luis Bracamontes on Wednesday with painful testimony from the mother of a deputy he killed, as well as new evidence of his repeated threats against officers.
As part of an effort to convince jurors that Bracamontes deserves the death penalty, prosecutors had the mother of Placer sheriff's Detective Michael Davis Jr. recount how she learned that her son had been shot to death on Oct. 24, 2014, and how her life has changed since then.
Debbie McMahon was in training for a new state job when her daughter-in-law messaged her on her cellphone: "You need to call. It's urgent. It's an emergency."
McMahon said she got word that her oldest son had been shot, but thought to herself, 'He's in a hospital, they'll take care of him,' and then drove to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where she met her son, Jason, a sheriff's department sergeant.
"Jason turned around and said, 'Mom, he's gone,'" McMahon said as she broke down weeping. "I said, 'I want to see my baby.' Jason said, 'Mom, are you sure?' And I said, 'Oh, yes.'"
With the jurors transfixed in the silent Sacramento Superior courtroom, McMahon described the last moments she spent with her son, who was five days shy of turning 43.
"I put my arms around his head, and I kissed him," she said. "And I could feel him getting cold, and I just wanted to take him home and fix him, but I couldn't take him home."
McMahon's testimony followed a daylong session Tuesday in which Davis' partner, Mike Simmons, and brother, Jason Davis, described the impact of Davis' death. Similar testimony came earlier from the family of Sacramento sheriff's Deputy Danny Oliver, the first man slain by Bracamontes in a daylong crime spree that began in Sacramento and ended in Auburn with him meekly surrendering.
Davis' mother recounted the various local and national honors bestowed on her son since his death, including remarks on the Senate floor by then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. By coincidence, Sessions, now the nation's attorney general, was speaking a few blocks from the courthouse about the Trump administration's lawsuit against California over its declaration that it is a sanctuary state.
Bracamontes, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, has become a symbol in the fight over immigration, and has been mentioned by President Trump during the national debate.
Bracamontes' public defenders are scheduled to begin presenting witnesses Monday in a weeks-long effort to convince jurors he should receive a sentence of life without possibility of parole.
But prosecutors Dave Tellman and Rod Norgaard spent the last three days trying to demonstrate that Bracamontes has no remorse and remains a danger.
Bracamontes helped that cause Monday when he exploded into profanities in front of jurors during testimony by Oliver's partner, Scott Brown.
Bracamontes was ordered removed by Judge Steve White and cackled directly at family members as he was led away. He has not returned to court since, and has been held in a courtroom cell with a video feed to the proceedings.
If he was watching Wednesday morning, he would have seen law enforcement officials who have dealt with him since his arrest describe a series of disturbing threats from Bracamontes.
Sacramento sheriff's Deputy Micah Brown testified that during a Feb. 4, 2015, drive from court to the El Dorado County jail Bracamontes began talking about snipers along the roadway and issuing threats.
"What do you think about a bullet in the middle of your forehead?" Brown recalled him asking. That was the same type of wound that killed Oliver in the Motel 6 parking lot on Arden Way.
He also turned his attention to a deputy riding in the front passenger seat with an AR-style rifle.
"The one with the rifle, he's going to be the first one who's going to go down," Bracamontes said, according to Brown.
Deputies were so unnerved by his threats that he was going to be broken out they called for colleagues to meet them at the El Dorado County line to escort them back to the jail.
Sacramento sheriff's Deputy Mark Gomes said Bracamontes made similar threats on Nov. 4, 2014, shortly after his arrest.
"He said, 'F--- you, someone is going to be waiting in your house when you get there,'" Gomes testified. "'Someone is going to be waiting to kill you.'"
Another witness, Sacramento sheriff's Deputy Andres Chaparro, testified about a June 15, 2017, incident during which Bracamontes threw a cup of water on him in court because he decided his leg shackles were too tight.
"He told me to 'loosen the f------ leg shackles, b----,'" Chaparro said.
In a hearing last week out of the presence of the jury, Chaparro testified that Bracamontes had another message for him and for the president.
"I'm going to kill you like I did those cops," Chaparro recalled him saying. "F--- Trump and all you f------ lawmen."