Published April 30, 2012
| Associated Press
LAS VEGAS – A DNA match, along with a bloody thumbprint, a baseball cap and cellphone records led to the arrest of a 22-year-old man who later told Las Vegas police that he partied heavily and didn't remember a random home invasion, sex attacks and hammer slayings of a mother and her 10-year-old daughter, and the near-fatal bludgeoning of their husband and father.
Court records made public Monday allege that even before the savage attacks in the modest West Las Vegas house, Bryan Devonte Clay followed and tried to rape a 50-year-old woman who clobbered him with a rock before he escaped with her cellphone. Officers arriving following that 2 a.m. April 15 attack on a quiet neighborhood street found a baseball cap that Clay later admitted was his, according to a police arrest report.
The horrific home slayings were discovered almost 30 hours later, when a 9-year-old boy arrived at school and told administrators that his sister and mother were dead in their house about four blocks away.
"He also reported his father had two holes in his head, was acting strange and there was blood all over the home," Las Vegas police said in the report.
Police arriving at the boy's house on Robin Street briefly saw a frightened 4-year-old boy inside before finding the father, Arturo Martinez, 39, barely alive. Martinez was able to shuffle out the front door before collapsing, a neighbor said. He remains hospitalized in critical condition, unable to communicate.
The 4-year-old boy was coaxed from the house and was not physically injured.
"The boys are OK. Thank God, physically OK," their aunt, Gaudia Martinez, told The Associated Press on Monday. She said she has visited her brother in the hospital's intensive care, but he hasn't been able to communicate.
In the home, police also found 38-year-old Ignacia Yadira Martinez and her 10-year-old daughter, Karla Edith Martinez, dead in their beds. Authorities later reported that both had been sexually assaulted.
DNA evidence obtained from the mother and a bloody left thumbprint obtained at the house were matched to Clay, Las Vegas police Lt. Ray Steiber said. Police also found the claw hammer that Steiber described as the murder weapon.
"I've been doing this 24 years, and this is the case that you hope you never see," Steiber told reporters late Friday.
In interviews Saturday and Monday with AP, Steiber characterized the slayings as "savage" and "heinous."
He said investigators don't know why Clay allegedly picked the Martinez home. Steiber said the intruder apparently entered through an unlocked front or back door.
But "the physical evidence, including DNA, makes us confident we have the right person and he is the only person involved in these crimes," Steiber said.
In a recorded interview with police following his arrest, Clay said that in the hours before the attacks he drank alcohol, took the club drug Ecstasy and smoked cigarettes dipped in the chemical drug PCP.
Police said several calls placed between about 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. were made with the phone taken from the 50-year-old woman. Some were to acquaintances of Clay, including a 17-year-old girl and two people who Clay later told detectives would be "the first people he would call if he was in trouble or scared." Clay denied making the calls.
Steiber said Clay had no "significant" criminal history before his arrest Friday morning at his mother's home in northeast Las Vegas on a warrant charging him with felony child abuse in a separate case involving a teenage girlfriend.
Police got their crucial break when a DNA sample collected from Clay following his arrest on the child abuse charge matched the evidence from the attempted rape and the attacks at the Martinez home, Steiber said.
Clay was being held Monday at the Clark County jail pending an initial court appearance on Wednesday.
He is facing charges including murder, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and sex assault that could get him the death penalty.
He is expected to be represented by a Clark County public defender, but no attorney was named to the case as of Monday, said Daren Richards, an administrator in the public defender office.