Statement for the Press by Pauline Mitchell, Mother of Fred C. Martinez, Jr.
July 18, 2001
"I feel it is time to talk about the death of my son, Fred C. Martinez, Jr.
"I am his mother and now I want to make sure the truth is told about Fred by people who loved him. With more and more talk about his death, the police looking into his murder, and the details of my son's personal life in the media, it is time to speak the truth about Fred's life.
"The most important thing I can say is that I loved Fred. I loved my son exactly for who he was, for his courage in being honest and gentle and friendly. It is sad that he had to face pain in his daily life and in school.
"I am speaking out now because I am angry. I am angry that other people are lying about who my son was, including Shaun Murphy and his family. I want to make sure that Fred has people speaking the truth about his life. I am angry that the police have not taken the time to explain what is happening and help me deal with this. I don't want to read about new things in the newspaper.
"I reported that Fred was missing on June 18. Two days later I called the police again, and on June 23 I read about a body being found near our home. I phoned the police again, but they told me the body had not been identified. Since June 25, when the police told me at work that Fred had been murdered, I wondered if it was because of who he was and how he expressed himself. Violence was a common part of his life, and as I learn more, I know that this was a crime based on anger and hate. His friends, other students at school, and family friends have told me things that make me know that Shaun Murphy picked Fred out to chase and beat him.
"One of the places that Fred faced a lot of trouble was in school. I blame the people in charge at the school for not making sure he was safe. I am angry that they thought Fred was the problem. Fred tried very hard to fit in. People in charge shouldn't treat children differently just because they aren't like them. I hope that they will listen to me and other people who care about what happened to Fred.
"Fred was a member of the Native American Church. A lot of Native American Church members prayed for Fred and his family.
"What I wanted for my son was for him to be accepted and loved, just like I accepted and loved him. Fred was always proud to be Navajo. Fred did not struggle with who he was, but he was hurt because of the people who had problems with my son expressing himself honestly. I hope that the police and the District Attorney will talk about this and bring justice for the death of my son. I am grateful to Fred's friends for accepting him the way he was and remembering him for who he was. Fred's family loved and cared deeply for all of who he was. We firmly believe that Fred's murder was a hate crime.
"Because he was different his life was taken from him, and we will never know the person Fred would have become."
Statement of Pauline Mitchell at the sentencing hearing on June 3, 2002 of Shawn Murphy, who pled guilty to the murdered her son Fred Martinez, Jr.
I am Pauline Mitchell. My son Fred C. Martinez, Jr., F.C. as he was known by family and friends, left this world much too soon because of those who fear and hate anyone who is different. I have come to discover that many, many people do care about Fred, Jr. It's hard especially when you have to talk about your baby this way. He was killed because he was different. To some people Fred said he was "transgender", to others "gay", to some "Nadleeh," a Native American word for people who live in the worlds of both female and male. To me, these labels mean nothing - and they meant nothing to F.C. He used these terms to make other people comfortable, not himself. You should also know that those "other people" did not include his family. We loved FC exactly as he was - and it is so sad that fear and hate of difference put young people like Fred and many others in the path of danger and violence.
I am a single parent. I have two granddaughters, two grandsons, and six boys, 26 on down. My oldest is 26, and Fred was the youngest. My son was only 16 years. Just a month ago he would have celebrated his seventeenth birthday. He could have had a lot of good years ahead of him. I have been sick for nearly a year from the loss of my son. I have missed a lot of work to go down to the hospital in Shiprock over and over again. Sometimes I can tell people haven't wanted to hire me because they know who I am and about Fred.
I love my son so much and I miss him very, very much. He was an outspoken boy, laughing and joking all the time. It is so quiet in my house now. F.C. was always ready to bring a laugh or smile to my heart when I needed it the most. He never saw another person as a stranger but as a fellow human being and was always ready to give a hug or compliment to anyone whom he believed to be hurting. F.C. loved life and to make others happy. He was my "tail" as I would call him. He was always ready to go with me on any errands or trips I had to make. He cherished his friends and he had many. He would love to do make-up with his girlfriends, to share ideas. He was a free spirit and I loved him for his spirit and all of who he was. Fred was a happy kid.
Almost four years ago, when he was 13 and in Middle School he started changing, wearing make-up. First eyebrow pencil. Later on curling his hair, putting more make-up on, and putting on nail polish. And Fred always carried a purse. Other than that, he dressed as a typical junior high school kid-like most of the kids he was friends with, like Marlene and Robin, dressed. He liked it. He was out with mostly girls. And he loved to fiddle around with his girlfriends' hair. Some of what the newspapers said about F.C. was not true, saying that he was wearing dresses, using girl's room--which he never did. One day we sat down in the front room, and he said, "This is the way I want to be." His brothers didn't say anything to him. We really didn't say nothing to him. F.C. was beautiful and liked to make himself more beautiful. We treated him like he is precious to us. The youngest. If that is how you want to be, if you are happy with it, okay. F.C. had many difficult times in his short life. Much of this was related to the fact that he was Navajo living in a world that does not honor and respect different ways, and also that he was Nadleeh--Two-Spirit-and he could comfortably walk the path of both male and female, that he would love differently from most. F.C. also felt the pain of what comes when your family is poor, but very proud. It is not easy to grow up as Navajo, Nadleeh and poor. But these are facts of life. He was not ashamed of who he was and neither was I. I now tell you that I dearly loved my precious son and was proud of all that he was.
F.C. was picked on at school because of the way he dressed. I understood kids picked on him. But he never told me, his girlfriends told me. F.C. worked hard to overcome these hardships and he was beginning to find the path he would walk down for what should have been a long and fulfilling life, and to do so proudly. He was interested in art and design. He liked to do hair and make up. He had ambitions. There were many things he wanted to do, and many places he wanted to go. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D. C. were the three cities Fred had always wanted to visit. I've gone to each of them this past year for the first time, but Fred could only go with me in spirit. Why can't others allow our loved ones to live their lives and to express themselves freely?
The last time I saw F.C. alive was the night of the Ute Mountain Rodeo in Cortez. He was going with some friends to the carnival just a mile from my house. The next time I saw him was to identify his body, at the funeral home. He'd been chased, beaten with a rock. He had been left to bleed, with a fractured skull, alone in the dark in a little canyon only a quarter mile from our home. He wasn't found until a week later. I was worried sick when he never returned, but I never thought it could be this bad. I don't know how long he lay there suffering. I don't know what his last thoughts were. I don't know all of the people who were involved. I know they chased him and beat him. And I know they left him lying there and tried to hide it. And that later Shawn Murphy bragged about it. He wasn't found until a week later, unrecognizable as the beautiful boy I'd last seen a week before. I had to identify that body by the hair band F.C.'d been wearing. This happened to my son and no way am I going to let that go. Some of my questions may never be answered. I just want to know the truth about what happened to my son. And I want justice to be done to all of the people responsible for his murder.
Mr. Murphy, you took my son away from me in the most vicious way I can imagine. You smashed his head with a rock. You were covered with his blood. When you left him that night a year ago in the Pits, not even a mile away from here, you knew you beat him with a rock and you felt it break his skull. You knew how much he was bleeding because you were covered with his blood. You deliberately left him there to die - or already dead. And my son lay there for a week and all you said about it was that you had "bug-smashed a fag."
I think you should be put to death for that. But I know that will not happen. It doesn't even seem to me like you care about what you've done. It looks like you have only cared about yourself since you were arrested. You say you want to be a father to your child, but what kind of father can take a mother's youngest child away from her with no apology whatsoever? It looks to me like you are a dangerous, violent person. The idea that I might see you on the street before too long, free to live your life, is an insult to me and to the memory of my son, Fred. I believe that you should be in jail for as much of your life as the law will allow. Because of you Fred can never become the person he might have been and the world is less for that. Whatever life is left to you, in jail or not, and whatever freedom you might have after is more than you deserve. You stole my son's life. You broke my family. And you broke my heart.
Thank you, Your Honor.
Tuesday, June 04, 2002 - Cortez
The 19-year-old Farmington young man Shaun Murphy received a 40-year prison sentence Monday for the bludgeoning death last June of a relative stranger, a 16-year-old Navajo boy who sometimes wore makeup, curled his hair and carried a purse.
The prosecutor asked the judge to send Shaun Murphy, the father of two infants, to prison for 48 years. Montezuma County District Judge Sharon Hansen could have gone as low as 16 years in the case, in which Murphy pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Fred "F.C." Martinez.
Martinez's mother, Pauline Mitchell, said in court Monday that she believes Fred was killed simply because he was different. Friends of Martinez describe him as gay or transgendered or "nadleeh," a Native American word for "two-spirit" - someone who lives as both male and female.
"To me, these labels mean nothing, and they meant nothing to F.C.," his mother said. "It is so sad that fear and hate of difference put young people like Fred and many others in the path of danger of violence."
But Murphy's mother, Angel Tacoronte, herself a lesbian, and a transsexual aunt, Gail Young, told The Post Monday that Murphy had never shown prejudice toward gays, transgendered people or Native Americans.
"This isn't a gay hate crime," Young said. "I've known Shaun all his life. I've always had a good rapport with him. He's never degraded me because I'm transsexual."
Tacoronte said she believes her son fought in self-defense. She fled the courtroom in tears after the judge read the sentence.
It had been a day of emotional and tear-filled pleas. Murphy's grandmother, 56-year-old Andrea Murphy, asked the judge for leniency and then collapsed in the courtroom and was taken away by ambulance before the sentence was rendered.
"Mr. Murphy," Pauline Mitchell said to him. "You took my son away from me in the most vicious way I can imagine. You smashed his head with a rock. You were covered with his blood. You deliberately left him there to die."
Murphy, a friend told police, only knew of Martinez's death when he heard it on the news.
"Killed that fool, huh?" he reportedly said.
Martinez's decomposed body was found June 21, five days after his disappearance, in a desert canyon on the edge of Cortez known as "The Pits."
Murphy read a short statement in which he said: "I made a terrible mistake." He said he was intoxicated and confused at the time of the crime, and he asked the judge to see him as a human being capable of becoming a better man.
District Attorney Joe Olt told the judge that Murphy had a history of violent assaults as a juvenile, including beating his own brother senseless.
Judge Hansen told Murphy that one of the most disturbing features of the case to her was that "you knew you had injured someone, yet you didn't even make an anonymous call."
"It might have made the difference whether or not Fred Martinez lived or died."