LAS VEGAS — Arturo Martinez-Sanchez says he had no choice but to forgive the man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing his wife and young daughter in an April 2012 attack that also left him seriously wounded.
“I have to forgive him, to go the way of life,” the Las Vegas resident said in a July 17 interview. “It’s in the Bible … I forgive him because I believe in God.”
“The Bible says: You forgive this gentleman, and you are forgiven yourself. That’s the way it is,” said Martinez-Sanchez, a lifelong Catholic who said his upbringing and education in the Church impressed on him the need to forgive Bryan Clay.
Martinez-Sanchez recently held a press conference to declare that he forgave the 22-year-old Clay, who is accused of raping Arturo’s 38-year-old wife Yadira and their 10-year-old daughter Karla. Both were beaten to death with a hammer by the attacker, who also inflicted severe head injuries on the father.
Clay and Martinez-Sanchez did not know each other before the home invasion, described by a Las Vegas police lieutenant as “a random, savage act.” The 39-year-old father and his wife also had two sons, Christopher and Alejandro, who were spared in the attack.
Arturo underwent two brain surgeries along with extensive physical therapy. He still speaks with difficulty, and continues to receive six hours of treatment each day.
But he has reopened the boxing gym he ran before the murders. And through his faith in God, he has set aside any form of hatred or desire for personal vengeance against the suspected killer.
Accompanied by his sons, he amazed listeners at the July 12 press conference with his response to a reporter who asked what he would say to Bryan Clay, given the chance.
“I would say, ‘I forgive you,’” he responded. “If he kissed me on the cheek, I would kiss him back.”
“I love my Yadira. I love my Karla. I love my sons,” Martinez-Sanchez said at the press conference. “We all love Jesus. Through his strength, we will survive.”
If Clay is found guilty, Martinez-Sanchez expects him to be punished appropriately, with the death penalty if necessary. But this decision, he said, is not his to make.
“My command,” he maintained, is simply “to forgive him.” That responsibility was “something between me and God,” with “nobody else involved.”
After Bryan Clay was arrested, the murder suspect reportedly told police he wished they had simply killed him rather than apprehending him. Martinez-Sanchez says he has prayed for Clay to be able “to know God” and receive the mercy available to all who sincerely repent.
No one, he stressed, is without sin in the eyes of God. And no one, according to Christ himself, will receive his mercy unless they show mercy to others.
“As a believer in Christ, I know that God forgives all the sins of those who have faith in him,” Martinez-Sanchez said in his July 12 “Forgiveness Statement.”
“In this, I am instructed to forgive first. Knowing that God will forgive even murders if there is true repentance, Bryan Clay will stand in judgment before him.”
His choice to regard Clay with love does not take away his pain, nor does it absolve the suspected killer of his responsibilities before the law and before God.
But for a victim of injustice, “forgiveness is not a choice that God leaves to us,” Martinez-Sanchez said in his July 12 statement. “It is a commandment.”