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Crime maimed 2 other victims: parents

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The man had a gun in one hand and a beer in the other, and he waved both around one spring afternoon on the lawn of his home in the tidy South Jordan neighborhood.

A loud pop attracted a neighbor's attention and local police came quickly to calls of shots being fired. The man yelled, neighbors reported, and fired the gun into the air. Family members told police the man was upset and had cried earlier that day.

Officers found the intoxicated 54-year-old man passed out just inside the door of the residence. He had fired another round from the handgun inside the home on Sweet Clover Lane, but no one was hurt.

His wife told police her husband was distraught and had been treated for depression. She said he might have been trying to commit suicide.

There are other victims of the Chevys shooting who never saw the gun flash but suffer as though they did.

Victims who aren't related to Peter Berg or Jason Rasmussen but who lost a family member just the same. Victims who suffer the sadness of that night and also the guilt and responsibility for their inadvertent role in the tragedy.

These victims are Robert and Susan Martinez, Quinn Martinez's parents.

Today the couple stick to themselves. And after much deliberation, they have decided to talk to the Deseret Morning News only in a very limited way about their family and son.

"This has been really rough on us, and we are really trying to get it behind us," Robert Martinez, 57, said recently.

But in two lengthy conversations with the Deseret Morning News during recent months, Robert Martinez, a soft-spoken man, talked about the years leading up to the incident at Chevys on April 27, 2000.

He talked about the night he and his wife learned their son might be responsible for the shooting that left two men dead and a waiter and mother critically wounded. He talked openly about his own struggles with anger and alcohol abuse since the shooting, about the impact on his wife and the slow road to healing. He is getting help. He is trying to deal with his emotions and guilt.

Three years ago, Robert Martinez was shocked to be pulled away from his work as a truck mechanic for Associated Foods on the night of April 27.

"You better get home," his wife told him on the phone. "I think Quinn's been involved in a shooting."

Police say they had Quinn's older sister, SeAnn Martinez, handcuffed at the family's South Jordan house. Investigators had put a series of circumstances together to lead them to SeAnn Martinez, who was with her younger brother Quinn just before the shootings. Confidential information then led police to a house near where Quinn Martinez spent 12 hours hiding out.

Robert and Susan Martinez saw their son only once after the shootings. They learned about Quinn Martinez's actions as details of the weeks leading up to the shootings were released by police and in court hearings — the arrest warrants that kept him away from home for weeks before the shootings; the methamphetamine binges.

It is clear the Martinez family has been plagued with trouble during the past three years.

About the same time as the shootings, Robert Martinez lost his job as a truck mechanic for Associated Foods when the company was bought out. He now works for another trucking company.

During the past three years, there have been police reports about alcohol, shoplifting and the weapons charges involving Robert Martinez. One of their daughters, SeAnn Linn Martinez, 27, was caught up the same criminal activity as her brother and has a long history of interactions with police. She is in jail today.

Neighbors and family friends say Susan Martinez is a stalwart and has worked hard to keep the family together.

But Robert Martinez has had trouble controlling his emotions.

There was the weapons incident on May 11, 2000, when South Jordan officers responded to a neighbor's report that Robert Martinez was wandering around outside with a gun in one hand and a beer in the other.

South Jordan police officers found a nearly empty fifth of French brandy at the house, according to the police report, and Robert Martinez was unable to sit or stand on his own. He had apparently also fired a bullet into a dresser in the couple's master bedroom and the bullet ricocheted off the dresser and into a wall, the report said.

When his wife returned home, Susan Martinez told police her husband was "distraught and that he might have been trying to commit suicide," according to a police report. Robert Martinez was taken to Jordan Valley Hospital for a mental evaluation.

There were more brushes with the law.

Police records show he was picked up two times during the next two years for driving under the influence, usually of Valium.

In November 2000, for example, he was arrested on misdemeanor DUI charges at 1300 S. Gladiola St. in Salt Lake City. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of alcohol-related reckless driving, and a judge suspended a sentence of 90 days in jail.

Two months later, he was charged with assaulting a police officer and interfering with an arrest in a case involving his daughter, SeAnn.

Last July, Robert Martinez was arrested for shoplifting and was cited for driving on a suspended license at that time. He has paid fines and spent some time in jail for these crimes.

In conversations with the Deseret Morning News, Robert Martinez is honest about his these incidents and trials.

"I was a mess for a long time. Seeing a counselor has helped a lot," he said. "But I've been really sad. Sad and angry."

The father of four is always polite and well-spoken and almost eager to talk. He is also afraid of publicity he says has portrayed his son as "an animal." This constant push-pull has dominated conversations with a reporter as The Deseret Morning News investigated a four-part series called "Crossing Paths with a Killer."

Robert Martinez loves his son. He also knows what went wrong with the boy everyone says was a follower, who relied more and more and began to seek acceptance from a questionable group of friends.

He confirmed police reports about the first signs of trouble for Quinn, back when the boy was 14 or so and started running around with those who seemed to be experimenting with alcohol and drugs and had too much time on their hands. He verified friends' comments about the family's efforts to keep Quinn in school as a teenager and to get him back on track once he saw the boy sinking deeper and deeper into a life of crime and drugs.

He confirmed police and probation statements that he found jobs for his son more than once, that the family tried to keep communication open, and in the final weeks before the shooting, that Robert Martinez tried to get Quinn to come home.

Like several others interviewed during a three-month investigation into the Chevys shootings, Robert Martinez said his son had good intentions to turn his life around but always sabotaged those intentions with bad decisions.

Court records show Quinn Martinez once cut off his court-ordered ankle monitor and went out with friends when he was supposed to be at home. He spent several months in jail for violating the terms of his release that time and when he got out of jail he told Robert Martinez that his days of crime and substance abuse were over.

"Never again, Dad, never again," Quinn Martinez told Robert in January 2000.

But it wasn't too long after that that he quit coming home and abandoned efforts to follow through on his probation agreements.

Initially, Robert Martinez was willing to meet with a reporter, to talk about the shooting incident that he says, "pulled my heart right out of my chest," and follow up on a comment made during one earlier conversation with a reporter:

"We're all victims," he said. "I'm still seeing a doctor over it."

But during a recent telephone call from the Utah State Prison, Quinn Martinez told his parents not to talk.

So Robert Martinez has complied.

"No, we just don't think it's a good idea now," he said. "We don't know what good it will do."

He would offer no more insight into Quinn's behavior after his son's request.

But probation officials, policemen and detectives are consistent in their evaluation of Robert and Susan Martinez as a well-intentioned couple trying desperately to corral Quinn's increasingly dangerous behavior.

"My impression was that he came from a strong family, but he was a young man making bad decisions and was on a bad path," said Saul Bailey, a detective with the Salt Lake Metro Gang unit.

"They are outstanding people," one of Quinn Martinez's former probation officers said. "They have an orderly home. They live in a good neighborhood. They were trying to do everything right."

Loydene Berg, the widow of Peter Berg, who Quinn Martinez murdered that April evening, could see the couple's angst when the families of the victim and killer met at the courthouse one day.

"They were very sad," Loydene Berg said. "The fact is, we all live every day with the consequences of the choices he made that day, and that includes his parents."

E-MAIL: lucy@desnews.com