Jury begins deliberations in trial of man accused of killing 6 members of family in Gage Park
The fate of a man accused of killing six members of his extended family in their Gage Park home during an apparent robbery has been placed in the hands of a Cook County jury.
Jurors began deliberating about 3:40 pm Tuesday in the trial of Diego Uribe, 28, who faces six counts of first-degree murder for allegedly shooting, bludgeoning or stabbing family members to death on Feb. 2, 2016.
The bodies were discovered two days later by authorities conducting a well-being check at the home at the 5700 block of South California Avenue.
Months later, Uribe and his then-19-year-old girlfriend, Jafeth Ramos, were charged with the murders when they allegedly confessed during interrogation by detectives who connected the couple to the scene through Uribe’s DNA and by tracking his cellphone.
In a deal with prosecutors last year, Ramos pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of armed robbery with a suggested 25-year prison term in exchange for her testimony.
On the stand, Ramos described in calm, chilling detail how Uribe allegedly killed each victim, beginning with his aunt, Maria Martinez, 32, whom he allegedly shot repeatedly after confronting her at gunpoint and demanding money. Uribe then killed her brother, Noe Martinez Jr., 38, by beating him with the gun and kneeling on his neck when he became unconscious, Ramos tested.
When the siblings’ mother, Rosaura Martinez, 58, said she was going to call police, Uribe allegedly kicked her down a flight of stairs and later ensured she was dead by allegedly stabbing her dozens of times with a kitchen knife, Ramos said.
And after making Maria Martinez’s children, Alexis Cruz, 10, and 13-year-old Leonardo Cruz, hunt through the home for items of value, Uribe allegedly stabbed both to death, Ramos said. They then allegedly waited for Noe Martinez Sr., 62, to return home with dinner for the family, and he stabbed him as well.
Prosecutors said the proceeds of the robbery netted Uribe $250 in cash, some jewelry, an Xbox and the contents of a piggy bank.
Uribe’s defense attorneys have maintained that he could not possibly have overpowered and killed all six by himself, though they admit he was present at the time. Instead, they claimed during opening arguments that the family was killed in a robbery by four masked men.
“How could one person have overpowered six people fighting for their lives and killed them in such a brutal fashion?” Assistant Public Defender Margaret Domin asked jurors in her closing argument.
But prosecutors said it was because of Uribe’s relationship to the victims that he was able to carry out the killing spree.
“The reason that this happened is because of trust,” Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Waller said in his response. “Because he was family, he was able to do that.”
“It’s never going to make perfect logical sense, but the bottom line is he wanted money,” Waller said.