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September 1, 2015

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Sexual assault charges to stand against man accused of bludgeoning mother, daughter

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Leila Navidi

Bryan Clay appears in court for a hearing at the Regional Justice Center on Monday, August 27, 2012.

Arturo Martinez-Sanchez clutched a small cross in his hands and, at times, bowed or shook his head.

It wasn’t easy subject matter for Martinez-Sanchez to digest Monday morning during a court hearing for Bryan Clay, the suspect accused of killing Martinez-Sanchez’s wife and daughter.

The defense had filed a motion in Clark County District Court seeking to have sexual assault and burglary charges dropped against Clay, 22.

After hearing more than 20 minutes of arguments, Judge Jessie Walsh denied the motion, letting one burglary charge and three sexual assault charges stand.

Clay is accused of bludgeoning to death Yadira Martinez and her 10-year-old daughter, Karla, whose bodies were found in April in their Las Vegas home. Both mother and daughter had been sexually assaulted during the attacks, which also left Martinez-Sanchez with severe head injuries, according to police reports.

Clay’s attorney, Anthony Sgro, argued the sexual assault charges should be dismissed because it’s unclear whether the victims were alive when the assaults happened. Sgro cited a previous court decision that stated, “Rape requires a live victim.”

During grand jury proceedings, the coroner testified he could not determine whether Martinez and her daughter were alive during the sexual assaults, Sgro told Walsh.

As for the burglary charge, Sgro argued it’s unclear whether Clay entered the Martinez family home randomly and whether he was armed with a claw hammer at that time.

Without those two questions answered, Sgro said Clay’s intent could not be determined, thereby weakening the burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon charge.

“The allegations in this case are horrific and horrendous,” Sgro said. “…We still have to know that the law is going to be applied regardless of anything else.”

Sgro said he favored attempted sexual assault or necrophilia charges in place of the sexual assault charges.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Daskas argued the grand jury understood the case law before it made the decision to indict on the sexual assault charges.

Daskas and Chief Deputy District Attorney Pam Weckerly are prosecuting the case. Both are part of the major violators unit in the District Attorney’s Office.

Clay, dressed in standard blue jail attire, sat next to his attorneys throughout the hearing and briefly glanced at his family as he left the courtroom.

After the hearing, Martinez-Sanchez huddled with his family and a throng of supporters who had joined him, including former boxing referee Richard Steele.

“I have no words,” Martinez-Sanchez said, describing his emotions.

That wasn’t the case before the hearing, though. Outside the courtroom, Martinez-Sanchez calmly chatted about his desire for justice and his devotion to the Bible.

“For my case, I’m going to be here,” he said.

In early June, a grand jury indicted Clay on 10 felony charges, including two counts of murder with use of a deadly weapon. Metro Police arrested Clay in late April after DNA tied him to the crimes.

The gruesome attacks were reported April 16 by the couple’s then 9-year-old son, who walked to Hoggard Elementary School and told staff that his mother and sister were dead.

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