Jurors spent the latter part of Tuesday and all of Wednesday learning about the life of convicted murderer Pablo Maldonado, from family and friends - many brought from Mexico - to tell about Maldonado's life, first in Mexico, then in the United States.
Most witnesses broke down in tears on the stand, and Maldonado was seeing wiping his eyes as well, as they spoke about Maldonado - a child unwanted by both parents, neglected, beaten and unloved. Maladonado's mother left him in the care of his grandmother and aunts when she came to the U.S. illegally. By many accounts, his relatives cared just as little for him as his parents.
His aunt, Candelaria Zequeida, testified that Maldonado's mother tried to abort him by using herbs and teas recommended or given to her by a healer and that Maldonado's father beat his mother when she was pregnant with him, even striking her in the stomach in the hopes that she would loose the baby. She said neither parent wanted him because they already had so many children. She also said that Maladonado's cousin had sexually abused him in the past.
He was often disruptive in school - both in Mexico and in the states - according to relatives, including one aunt who is a school teacher in Mexico. He would also get beat often for dawdling when he was supposed to go to the store for tortillas and beer.
His uncle Gregorio Zequeida, a lawyer in Mexico, said that Maladonado was "angry a lot" and "liked to fight," but also said that he believed all Maldonado wanted was for his mother and his family to love him and not just beat him. He described Maladonado as neglected - both physicall and emotionally - and said there were many times when Maladonado would come to his home hungry and looking for food.
He also explained that in Mexico, the government does not get involved with the raising of children, and that it was not uncommon for children to be beat, because the culture there is so different from in the states.
"You can beat them any kind of way," he said.
Once in the U.S., Maldonado was often bounced from relative to relative. An accusation of molesting his neice got him beaten and sent from Georgia to California to live with his father, stepmother and step-siblings. The accusation was later recanted, but not before Maldonado received a severe beating from his family members. He was also accused of assaulting his step-sister, but during her testimony, the woman said Maldonado never touched her, that the two were close, and that it was actually Maladonado's father who abused her, blaming it on his son.
When he was 14-years-old, Maldonado was in the custody of the juvenile authorities for gang activity and firing a firearm in public. His mother was on the way to visit him - some say from Georgia, others say she was living in California at the time - when she was killed in a car accident. All those testifying say that Maldonado blamed himself, with the exception of his older brother - his mother's favorite child - who said Maladonado and his sister's all blamed his mother's death on him.
"He was raised like a little animal," said cousin Xochitl Morales, crying. "The people who were supposed to take care of him didn't care for him, so he didn't understand what love was."