The soldiers killed Jacinto Lopez's teenage daughter Magdalena by repeatedly stabbing her in the neck.
Then they shot and killed his sons, 13-year-old Domingo and 10-year-old Pedro.
His in-laws were not spared. Barely anyone in the village was.
These atrocities, which took place in the remote Guatemalan town of Santa Maria Nebaj in July of 1982, have never been described in a courtroom.
For the first time, Lopez has shared his terrifying story in the nation's highest court.
And for the first time "anywhere in the world," according to the United Nations, a former head of state is being tried for genocide by his own nation's justice system. That man is Efrain Rios Montt, an ex-military dictator who ruled Guatemala from 1982 to 1983.
"They killed my family and destroyed our crops," Lopez testified. "They took even my cows."
The attack against the Lopez family was just one of countless assaults in the early 1980s during the war between the Guatemalan government and leftist rebels.
The military used the rebel threat as a guise to exterminate rural Ixil Mayan villages accused of harboring insurgents, prosecutors say. According to prosecutors, the campaign led to the genocide of more than 1,700 Ixil Mayans.
Previous accusations of genocide, such as in Rwanda or against Serbia, have been presided over by international judges. The Guatemala attacks are considered by many experts as the only incident of genocide in the Western Hemisphere during the modern era.
The trial reignites debate over the United States' controversial pro-government policies in the region during the 1980s. It also offers a fascinating look in real time at how a nation is choosing to face its own demons. Painful public testimony could help heal the national betrayal reflected in the faces of many Mayan victims.
Lopez, now 82 years old, is among dozens of witnesses who have testified at the trial being heard by the nation's three-judge Supreme Court.
Rios Montt, 86, is accused of authorizing a military strategy so brutal that it was labeled "scorched earth." His attorneys say the former dictator did not order any of the atrocities.
The genocide charges rest on the assertion that the army, under Rios Montt's orders, specifically targeted the Ixil because of their ethnicity, and not just because they were suspected of harboring rebels. The charge has been made before, but not in court. A 1999 report by a Guatemalan truth commission concluded that "agents of the state committed acts of genocide against groups of Mayan people."
During the opening remarks of the trial, an attorney for Rios Montt laid the foundation for the argument that no such ethnic targeting took place.
"I never heard a speech that said 'kill the Ixil, exterminate the Ixil,'" defense lawyer Francisco Garcia Gudiel said. Rios Montt "never gave an order, written or spoken, to exterminate a single Ixil in this country."
The United States stands accused in the court of public opinion. Critics say Washington turned a blind eye to the abuses, and worse. The Reagan administration claimed violence was decreasing during Rios Montt's tenure, and in 1983, lifted a U.S. arms embargo. But there are bookends for this dark chapter of Central American history. More recently, the United States has pushed for Guatemalan judicial reform that has made this trial possible.
For generations, the Ixil have lived in mountainous villages in the country's northwest, mostly isolated from the rest of Guatemala and the world. According to the country's 2002 census, Guatemalan Ixil number around 95,000, less than 1% of the nation's population.
They still speak primarily the Ixil language, and most of the witnesses called to the stand so far have spoken through a translator. The horrific stories that more than 70 prosecution witnesses have revealed so far have been hard to hear in any language.
"I was 12 years old," said one woman, whose identity was protected by the court. "They took me with the other women and they tied my feet and hands. They put a rag in my mouth ... and they started raping me ... I don't know how many took turns. ... I lost consciousness ... and the blood kept running. ... Later I couldn't even stand or urinate."
Stories about rape were so widespread that the trial set aside an entire day of testimony just for rape victims.
Their shocking stories prompted many of the hundreds of Guatemalans sitting in the courtroom to use their hands to cover their mouths. The powerful proceedings often wrapped the courtroom in profound silence, only to be broken by the sound of sobbing.
Pedro Chavez Brito was 6 or 7 years old when the military attacked his village in November 1982. Soldiers killed his mother, he told the court. In a frantic bid to escape, he hid with his pregnant sister and her two children among the family's chickens.