An illegal immigrant woman charged with killing her four children and her husband shocked onlookers in court when she gave television news cameras a thumbs up while smiling bizarrely.
33-year-old Maria Isabel Garduno-Martinez, who entered illegally into the United States from Mexico, was charged with stabbing her children and husband to death early Thursday morning in their home near Atlanta, Georgia.
Homicide update: 1 adult male & 4 young children are deceased, 1 child transported to hospital with serious injurie… https://t.co/tubCJbexlM— Gwinnett County Police (@Gwinnett County Police)1499340868.0
Garduno-Martinez called the police just before 5 a.m. to report the stabbings.
Police discovered her five victims, 33-year-old Martin Romero, 10-year-old Isabela Martinez, 7-year-old Dacota Romero, 4-year-old Dillan Romero and 2-year-old Axel Romero. A sixth victim was found, but the 9-year-old girl survived despite her serious injuries.
Neighbors said that she must have been in the home with the deceased family members for as long as 24 hours.
Her bizarre courtroom antics were noted by the news crews who were covering the case.
Before the hearing began, Martinez sat with other inmates and struck poses for news cameras — smiling, giving a double thumbs up, putting her hands in a prayer position and spreading her arms out wide.
As Judge Thorpe listed the charges she faces — five counts of malice murder, five counts of murder and six counts of aggravated assault — Martinez smiled, shook her head "no" and wagged her finger at him. The judge advised her sharply not to perform for the cameras.
When the judge informed her of her right to have an attorney, she said through a Spanish-language interpreter, that she doesn't want an attorney. She later added that her attorney will always be the people and her faith.
It was not clear whether the other family members were also present in the United States illegally or not.
"It's awful. It's devastating. Everyone is in complete shock," said a spokesman for an after-school program the kids participated in. "The kids were engaged in what we're doing. They were happy. They were fantastic kids with a bright future."