LAS VEGAS (AP) - Forgiveness was the message Thursday from a Las Vegas father and boxing coach who was nearly bludgeoned to death in a home invasion hammer attack that left his wife and their daughter dead in their home almost three months ago.
"People can forgive," Arturo Martinez said after an emotional thanks to more than 75 friends, public officials, supporters and fellow union members who helped paint and renovate his Real KO Boxing Gym in North Las Vegas.
In words sometimes halted by brain injuries and his own emotion _ and with his 9-year-old son's hand on his left shoulder and his 5-year-old son fidgeting with a microphone stand to his right _ Martinez sat at a table framed by photos of his slain wife and daughter and called forgiveness one of God's commandments.
"I forgive this murderer because of my faith in God and in Jesus Christ," Martinez said. "Because I have to forgive him doesn't take my pain away. Because I have to forgive him doesn't mean that he will not be held accountable to God and the American judicial system ... including the death penalty, if that is how he is sentenced."
Martinez's public appearance came 88 days after he was knocked unconscious for more than 12 hours, and police say Ignacia "Yadira" Martinez and 10-year-old Karla Martinez were sexually assaulted and killed early April 15.
Police later arrested Bryan Devonte Clay Jr., 22, a stranger to the family. He has pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping and other charges and awaits trial next June. He could receive the death penalty if convicted.
Clay also pleaded not guilty to trying to rape a 50-year-old woman in a separate street attack several hours earlier not far from the Martinez home. Police say Clay told investigators that he drank alcohol and took drugs the night before, and didn't remember what he did later.
Martinez released a statement Thursday saying he awoke in his home the evening after the attack to find his wife and daughter dead in bedrooms completely covered in blood, and his boys asking what happened.
"They had already been exposed to the assaulted bodies of their mother and sister," the statement said.
Martinez wrote that he tried to dial 911 but couldn't make his fingers work. The attack became known the next day, after 9-year-old Cristopher went to school and told administrators that his mom and sister were dead and his dad was injured at home.
"Many parts of my memory and speech had been wiped out," Martinez said in the written statement. "I could not stand or balance. I could not see. I could not understand much of what was being said to me. The only thing that stuck clearly in my mind was the scene that I saw."
His shaved scalp shows long stitched scars, and he bears a healed wound the size of a hammer strike in the middle of the back of his head.
Martinez, 39, is now undergoing intensive brain injury rehabilitation. He and his sons live with family members. They won't return to the bloodied home.
His hands shook as he read, paused, and continued Thursday from a four-page statement in his sweltering gym. He promised to return to coaching boxing.
"It was Yadira's and Karla's dream to ... create great fighters here," he said.
"Our happy family was destroyed. The world is full of evil," Martinez said. "I choose not to give in to this evil. I choose life and happiness for my sons Cristopher and Alejandro. We choose to be strong and move forward."
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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