I am a Killer season 1, episode 4 recap: Sympathy for the Devil


Episode 4 of Netflix series I am a Killer looks into a triple homicide in Laredo, Texas in 1991. Did the devil make them do it?

Miguel Angel Martinez seems like an intelligent man as he speaks. He uses plenty of words you wouldn’t expect of the average prisoner.

Still, intelligence didn’t prevent him from being sentenced to death in 1991 for his part in a triple homicide in Laredo, Texas. Although his death sentence was commuted to a life sentence with possible parole. he is still interviewed from inside prison walls.

Two Killers, Three Victims

Miguel says he had an average life, but he did get into mischief.  Back in 1991, when he was 17, Martinez was hanging out and doing drugs with 17-year-old Milo Flores and 16-year-old Miguel Vanegas.

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According to Martinez, Vanegas had a tendency to do a lot of drugs and get expressive, and they developed a plan to break into a house, steal some things, sell them for money and get more drugs.

Martinez happened to have keys to a place owned by James Smiley, a 33-year-old restaurant manager and Baptist Minister. In fact, Smiley had given Martinez work at one point, and Martinez even stayed at the place to get a ride.

However, Martinez claims Vanegas was “on a mission for Satan.” While Milo Flores stayed away, a savage scene unfolded inside the home, involving an ax and at least two knives.

Those slain were 20-year-old Reuben Martinez, 14-year-old Daniel Duenez and James Smiley himself. They stole a TV, a VCR and a car (I am a Killer doesn’t mention if the theft was considered in the trial, including sentencing).

Jesus Torres, an Officer for the Laredo Police Department who led the investigation, says the 14-year-old victim put up a fight, but the other two must have died in their sleep and showed fewer signs of a struggle.

There was one ominous, chilling sign, too: A cross hanging in Smiley’s home was turned upside down, indicating a possible satanic motive (or at least a sense of humor).

Milo Innocent

Interestingly, Milo Flores’ father, Manuel Flores, was a Judge. He doesn’t appreciate people accusing him of sheltering his son from prosecution and maintains that he would have preferred his son stand trial to have his name cleared.

Manuel Flores maintains that his son’s participation was minimal. He only supplied them with an ax and thought they would just “trash” the house. Fortunately for Milo, both Martinez and Vanegas maintain he wasn’t present during the killings.

In fact, Vanegas himself takes most credit for the deaths. Vanegas happened to be too young for the death penalty and got 41 years instead.

Miguel Vanegas Speaks: The Devil Made Him Do It?

This is one of I am a Killer’s most chilling moments yet, as Miguel Vanegas goes over details of that night. Although he says he was “high” the entire time, he doesn’t claim he didn’t know what he was doing.

In fact, Vanegas says that, at the time, he believed he was the son of the devil. He even recalls how, when he was even younger, he had filled up a jar with black widow spiders, put them on his chest and, because none of them bit him, he was the son of Satan.

On that night in 1991, he says he was “snorting some lines” when Martinez came up with the idea to steal. When they made it to Smiley’s house, Vanegas said, “Why don’t we just kill the dude then?”

When one of them replied, “Eh, you won’t do that,” Vanegas took it as a dare (specifically, he says he comes from a “machista culture” where “a dare is a dare”).

Declaring that it’s “more souls to the devil,” he explains that he thought, “I need to kill these people and get out of here.” While Vanegas killed with apparent ease, he admits that Martinez stepped outside to puke.

Addressing the gravity of his crimes, Vanegas says “41 years is like a slap on the hand” and that “it won’t pay for one life.”

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Martinez has more mixed feelings about what happened. He feels he didn’t receive treatment equal to Milo Flores. That aside, one may also wonder how Martinez — who doesn’t express remorse — only got 41 years. Still, Martinez is humble enough to say “Whatever happens to me is just a small thing.”

That’s it for this I am a Killer recap! What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!