Gage Park

Woman Tells Jurors She Watched Her Ex-Boyfriend Kill 6 Family Members in Gage Park Massacre


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For nearly two hours Wednesday, a woman calmly told a Cook County jury about watching her former boyfriend kill six members of his extended family inside the family’s Southwest Side home.

The massacre — which included two child victims — was the result of a robbery that spun out of control and netted the couple a mere $250, jewelry, an Xbox and a piggy bank, Jafeth Ramos testified in court.

Ramos and the ex-boyfriend, Diego Uribe, were on their way back from a medical clinic on Feb. 2, 2016, when he told her that instead of going home they would be stopping by his aunt’s, where he had “a job” to do, Ramos testified.

Ramos told jurors, “At some point he said he was going to kill them” and showed her a gun, but she said, “I didn’t take him too seriously.”

When they arrived at the orange brick bungalow in Gage Park that Uribe’s aunt shared with her two children, brother and parents, the family was sitting down for dinner and offered the couple food.

Uribe asked to talk to his aunt, Maria Martinez, and Ramos said she followed Martinez and Uribe to his aunt’s second-floor residence in the attic.

Soon after, Uribe allegedly pulled out the gun and held it on Martinez, 38, while demanding that she give him “all the money in the house,” Ramos said.

Martinez laughed in response, Ramos recalled, but upon realizing Uribe was serious, began to grab for the gun and struggle with him for it. Uribe then shot her in the forehead and several more times, Ramos testified.

When Martinez’s brother, Noe Martinez Jr., 38, tried to come up the stairs, Uribe pistol-whipped him until he fell to the floor and pinned his knee to Noe Martinez’s throat until he stopped moving, Ramos said.

When the siblings’ mother, Rosaura Martinez, followed, Uribe allegedly kicked her down the flight of stairs, knocking her unconscious. Uribe later allegedly got a knife from the kitchen and repeatedly stab the 58-year-old, she said.

“No, Diego, why are you slicing my throat?” Ramos said she recalled the woman saying.

Ramos said the children — Leonardo Cruz, 13, and his brother, Alexis Cruz, 10, — were forced to help them search for items of value. Afterward, Ramos said she told the children to gather their pajamas and toothbrushes, and Uribe followed Alexis downstairs to a basement bedroom.

Ramos said she heard “a scream, or a laugh” and Uribe came back up the stairs alone. She said she later went downstairs and saw the child lying in a pool of blood.

Uribe next cornered Leonardo in the living room, who pleaded with Uribe, saying, “I just want to live,” before Uribe stabbed him to death, Ramos said.

The couple then waited for Noe Martinez Sr., 62, to return home, and Uribe fatally stabbed him as well, Ramos said.

The bodies were discovered when police conducted a well-being check at the home two days later. Uribe and Ramos were arrested several months later, and Ramos, under questioning, told detectives that Uribe had killed the family members and said she had participated. Prosecutors charged both with murder in May 2016, saying Uribe’s DNA was found at the scene and under Maria Martinez’s fingernails.

On cross examination, defense attorney Martha Soto asked Ramos about her frequent memory lapses during her testimony and about a deal with prosecutors that would one day allow her release from prison.

Ramos, now 25, pleaded guilty last year to a reduced charge of armed robbery with a suggested 25-year prison sentence in exchange for testifying against Uribe, First Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier told jurors earlier.

As Ramos detailed her account Wednesday, Armando Cruz, the father of the two children who were killed, began sobbing and left the courtroom. He testified through a translator earlier in the day that he had been living in Mexico at the time of the murders and had spoken to his children the day before they were killed.

“This is going to be a terrible case to have to sit through,” Uribe’s defense attorney, Felicia Weiss, warned jurors during opening arguments, and she asked them to set their emotions aside and look at the facts.

There was no way Uribe, 28, could have killed all six members of the family alone, Weiss said, instead suggesting the killers were “four masked men” who came to the home demanding money.

“When the money wasn’t coming, they started killing people,” Weiss said.

Uribe recognized one of the men, who then threatened Uribe’s family, Weiss said.

“Diego was a coward,” his attorney said. “He didn’t speak up. He didn’t point the finger at anyone … but he’s not a murderer.”

This year, Circuit Judge Carol Howard denied a defense motion to present jurors hearsay testimony from a former FBI informant who called police with a tip that the murders were linked to the violent Juarez cartel.

The informant told detectives cartel bosses sent “enforcers” to Chicago to go after Armando Cruz after he made off with a $3.5 million drug shipment, according to court filings.

Chicago police detectives and FBI agents interviewed the informant in Mexico before Uribe was charged, but they apparently ruled him out and those he named as the killers as suspects.

Defense attorneys made no mention of the cartel in court Wednesday.

The trial is expected to continue Thursday.

Copyright CHIST - SunTimes
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