‘Broken Brain’ Defense Used In El Paso Random Double Slaying Trial

A horrific double killing in El Paso, Texas, three years ago was committed at random by a man with a “broken brain,” according to defense lawyers for Christian Alberto Martinez. Now, as the trial of the 23-year-old El Paso man gets underway, those lawyers are asking a jury to find Martinez not guilty, due to insanity caused by his severe mental illness.

“Christian has a broken brain. The wiring is just not there,” attorney Joe Spencer told a jury of seven men and seven women, including the two alternates, during his opening statement Tuesday, reported on KFOX 14 News in El Paso.

“Every crime is a tragedy, but not every tragedy is a crime,” Spencer told the jurors, in a case where Martinez faces the death penalty in the pointless stabbing deaths of Amalia Flores, 58, and her 20-year-old daughter Jovana in their home on Pratt Avenue in east El Paso on January 28, 2011.

“I promise you that when this case is over, you’ll never forget it. This is a tragedy, not a crime,” Spencer said.

The killings took place when Martinez, angry that he had locked his car keys inside his house, was taking a five-mile walk to his girlfriend’s home when he crossed paths with a jogger, Jovana Flores. The mentally disturbed Martinez, who had attempted suicide just a week earlier, was then seized with the urge to try to kill himself once again, according to an account in The El Paso Times.

At that point, Martinez impulsively followed Jovana Flores to her El Paso home and once inside, went into a frenzy and stabbed the young woman and her mother over 100 times, killing them. After that, he took the knife to his own wrist. But that wasn’t good enough.

Spotting a foot-long serrated kitchen knife, he grabbed it and attempted to saw his left hand clean off, and nearly succeeded. Amalia Flores’ second daughter returned home and walked in on the gruesome scene, seeing her sister and mother dead, soaked in blood.


She then found Martinez lying on her mother’s bed. By the time El Paso police got there, Martinez had locked himself in the bedroom. Cops busted down the door and when they seized Martinez, he fought. After paramedics were able to dress his wounded wrist, Martinez tried to bite the bandages off.

During a competency hearing for Martinez in 2012, Spencer told the court that the accused killer suffers from severe chronic depression and a schizoid disorder, as well as Kawasaki disease, a condition that cases inflammation of the blood vessels.

Martinez endured sexual abuse from a relative while a child, as well as verbal abuse from his father, Spencer said.

Testimony in the trial is scheduled to open in an El Paso courtroom today. More than 35 witnesses are expected to testify.