A woman testified on Wednesday against her ex-boyfriend as his trial for the m*rder of six members of the same family began, describing in brutal detail the 2016 crime she committed to raise money.
Diego Uribe Cruz is accused of killing a group – including 10-year-old Alexis Cruz and 13-year-old Leonardo Cruz – in an armed robbery at a home in Gage Park.
Jafeth Ramos stood as a witness in the Leighton Criminal Court building on Wednesday to testify against Uribe Cruz, who was then her boyfriend for two years. She was the fifth person to do so after opening evidence in the trial.
On February 2, 2016, Uribe Cruz drove Ramos to a doctor appointment that they didn’t know was scheduled for the next day, Ramos said. She said that instead of going home, Uribe Cruz started driving to the house where the Martinez family lived. He told her they would “come back with the money,” she said.
“At one point he said he was going to kill them. I didn’t take him seriously, Ramos testified.
Ramos testified under a plea bargain in which she pleaded guilty to armed robbery in order to obtain lowered charges and possibly a 25-year sentence as opposed to a life sentence.
She told prosecutors that she did not remember if Uribe Cruz had shown her the gun in the car, even though he had previously told detectives that he had shown her a “cowboy pistol”.
It was a rainy, gloomy afternoon, Ramos said as they arrived at the house where the Martinez family lived. Prosecutors showed the jury a photo of a quaint brick house with white windows.
Ramos said that 13-year-old Leonardo let them in, and inside, she and Uribe Cruz joined the family in the dining room where they were having dinner. There was Maria Herminia Martinez, 32, Noe Martinez Jr., 38, and their mother, Rosaura Martinez, 58.
Their father, Noah Martinez Sr., 62, was absent. Prosecutors previously said they are buying hot chocolate and tamales.
The two children in the house are the sons of Maria Herminia with Armando Cruz, who was living in Mexico at the time. However, he was present at the hearing on Wednesday; he cried and left the courtroom as Ramos began to talk about the m*rders of the two boys.
Ramos said that after a while at the Uribe table, Cruz asked Maria Herminia to speak to him. The three of them went upstairs, and Uribe Cruz and his aunt started talking about putting away fake money, Ramos said. She went to use the bathroom and when she left she said she saw her boyfriend pull out a gun and a book bag, demanding money.
After a short fight for the gun, she said, Uribe Cruz aimed it at his aunt again, threatening to kill his family if he didn’t give him the money.
When she refused, Ramos said, Uribe Cruz shot her in the forehead. Ramos said she didn’t do anything because she was shocked.
Soon after, Noah Martinez Jr. climbed the stairs and, seeing his sister lying on the ground, got into a fight with Uribe Cruz, Ramos said.
“Noah did not let go. Noah was still trying to fight for his life, ”she said.
But Uribe Cruz was able to defeat Noah and strangled him, Ramos added. At Uribe’s urging, Cruz took out her phones and put them in his book bag. The mother of the family then went up the stairs.
Ramos remembered Rossaura saying, You killed both my children. I’ll call the police. ”Ramos allegedly pushed her down the stairs. A 58-year-old woman was unconscious at the bottom of the staircase.
She said Uribe Cruz and Ramos went downstairs where he instructed two boys to find valuables. They collected spare change, a few dollar bills, a piggy bank, an Xbox 1 video game console, and jewelry from all over the house. She said that when Ramos returned to the kitchen, she saw nothing.
But “what I heard made me stop in my footsteps,” she said, “it was Rossaura’s plea for her life.”
“I didn’t think he would hurt Leo and Alexis,” Ramos said. So she asked the youngest for his things: pajamas, a toothbrush, a change of clothes. She said Uribe Cruz followed the boy into the basement and when he returned he was alone. When she asked about 10-year-old Alexis, she said he replied, “It’ll be okay.”
Back on Mount Uribe, Cruz allegedly cornered 13-year-old Leonardo and stabbed him with a knife as the boy pleaded, “I just want to live!”
Ramos said she left the house from behind and came back inside only to see the family patriarch, Noah Martinez Sr., on the ground when Uribe Cruz stabbed him. Prosecutors said the accused stabbed the children’s grandfather more than 40 times.
After washing the floors and wiping the door handles, the couple left the house, later pawning jewelry at the pawnshop, Ramos said.
In their introductory statements, Uribe Cruz’s attorneys pointed to their argument: that one person could not kill six others, and instead that four masked men killed the family in a violent robbery, allowing Uribe Cruz and his girlfriend to go on alert.
The defense said that despite having access to the Ramos family’s cell phones, she never tried to call 911. They also said she never tried to run away from the house.
The family was discovered two days later, on February 4, 2016, when police conducted a health check after Noah Martinez Jr. did not show up for the second day in a row.
Uribe Cruz was arrested on May 18, 2016 and charged with six counts of first degree m*rder. Ramos was arrested the next morning with similar charges.
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