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National
Georgia mom felt ‘devil-like spirit’ before stabbing children, husband pleads guilty
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Georgia mom felt ‘devil-like spirit’ before stabbing children, husband pleads guilty

Georgia mom felt ‘devil-like spirit’ before stabbing children, husband pleads guilty
Isabel Martinez (WSBTV.com)

Georgia mom felt ‘devil-like spirit’ before stabbing children, husband pleads guilty

A Georgia woman has pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing her husband and four children, and stabbing a fifth child, who survived, the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office said.

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Isabel Martinez, 35, entered guilty pleas to five counts of murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of cruelty to children Tuesday. Martinez's defense attorney, Don Geary, said she pleaded guilty, but mentally ill.

Martinez called 911 on July 6, 2017. When paramedics arrived at her Loganville home, they found Martinez with her wrists slashed. Martinez’s husband, Martin Romero, 33, was found stabbed to death, along with 10-year-old Isabela Martinez, 2-year-old Axel Romero, 7-year-old Dacota Romero and 4-year-old Dillan Martin-Romero. Diana Romero, then age 9, was found with stab wounds, but survived.

Diana Romero told a DFCS worker that Martinez began stabbing the children first; when Martin Romero tried to stop her, Martinez stabbed him, according to a DFCS report. Martinez was not crying or screaming as she killed her family members, and told Diana Romero that she was “going to the sky to see Jesus,” Diana Romero told a DFCS worker.

Martinez confessed to the killings in the following hours and was arrested, according to the DA’s office. Later, she claimed a “family friend” committed the stabbings in her Loganville home, but she did not give police the name of that alleged friend. 

The Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office declined to seek the death penalty in this case in part due to Martinez’s “apparent mental issues,” District Attorney Danny Porter said in 2018.

Family and neighbors said Martinez was depressed in the weeks before she killed her family. Her father had died and Martinez was unable to attend the funeral in Mexico. She worried that he would go to hell because he practiced witchcraft, her brother-in-law, Orlando Romero, told the AJC. She told a Department of Family and Child services worker after her arrest that she felt a “devil-like spirit” was trying to take her children when they were playing in the ocean near Savannah shortly before the killings. 

Martinez was sentenced to five life sentences with the possibility of parole plus 21 years after entering her plea Tuesday, according to the DA’s office.

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  • A 71-year-old great-grandmother was fatally shot Saturday night while trying to break up a fight near a grocery store in Washington, D.C., her family said. Sheila Lucas was killed near a Giant grocery store, WJLA reported. According to family members, Lucas drove from her home to the store after her granddaughter said she had been attacked by two girls inside the store, the television station reported. Lucas met her daughter and granddaughter and was walking away from the store when the assailants returned. “My mom tried to step in between to make sure that they didn’t fight,” Lucas’ son, Robert Alston, told WJLA. “A gunshot rang (out). My mom gets hit in the head, and then she’s no longer here with us.” According to police, Lucas was taken to the hospital and later pronounced dead, WJLA reported. Another man nearby was shot also. His injuries were not life-threatening, police said. Lucas leaves six children, four adopted children, and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 'Who shoots a 71-year-old woman in the head who has nothing to do with all this?” Alston told WJLA. “We didn’t get a chance to say, ‘Mom, we love you’. We didn’t get a chance to say, ‘Mom we’ll see you later.’ We didn’t get that opportunity. Her life was taken from us.” Police said they did not have a description of the assailants and no arrests have been made. The department said a reward of up to $25,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction, WJLA reported.
  • The grieving fiance and family of a Colorado woman who died in a car crash three months ago said the wedding videography company is refusing to refund their money. The company, meanwhile, expressed its sympathy but said the upfront fee was nonrefundable. According to her obituary, 22-year-old Alexis-Athena Steva Wyatt died Feb 3. Her wedding to Justin Montney would have been Saturday in Colorado Springs, according to their listing on TheKnot.com. Montney said he wrote to Copper Stallion Media, a Texas-based videography company, shortly after Wyatt’s death to request the $1,800 they contracted for with the company on Nov. 29, 2019. “They should have been able to do (that) because they didn’t render any services,” Montney told KMGH-TV. According to Montney, the Dallas company threatened to sue him for defamation after he left a review on TheKnot.com explaining his circumstance, KDRO reported. The company said it received more than 75 one-star reviews “in a matter of hours.” After an exchange of emails, the company started a new website, JustinMontney.com, which it said it created to document its side of the story. Copper Stallion Media said had it bought the domain for the next two years. It also published what it claimed was an exchange of emails between Montney and the company. 'He kept emailing us trying to get a refund and we kept reiterating that the contract is non-refundable,' the website said. Copper Stallion Media said Montney emailed the company May 18 and said 'a presence will be taking place on social media.” “This statement shows malice and intent to harm the reputation of Copper Stallion Media,” the company wrote on JustinMontney.com. The company said that Montney admitted to KDRO that the contract was non-refundable “but says we should give the money back due to the circumstance.” “Life is a (expletive), Justin,” Copper Stallion wrote on JustinMontney.com. According to KGMH, on Saturday the company posted a photo of the couple with the following, “Today would have been the day where we would have filmed Justin and Alexis’ wedding. After what Justin pulled with the media stunt to try and shake us down for a refund we hope you sob and cry all day for what would have been your wedding day.” The post has been taken down. Calls to a representative of Copper Stallion Media by KDRO and KGMH for comment have not been returned, the television stations reported.
  • More than 5.5 million people worldwide – including more than 1.6 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Tuesday, May 26, continue below:  73 new fatal coronavirus cases reported in New York Update 11:35 a.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Tuesday that 73 more people have died of COVID-19 statewide. The number was slightly less than the 95 new fatal cases reported one day earlier. Georgia offers to host RNC after Trump threatens to pull convention from North Carolina Update 11:10 a.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia on Tuesday offered his state up as host of the Republican National Convention after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the RNC from it’s planned setting in North Carolina over the state’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention,' Kemp wrote in a post on Twitter. Trump said in a series of tweets published Monday that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper must immediately tell organizers whether or not they’ll be able to host the convention as expected from Aug. 24 to Aug. 27 at the Spectrum Center and Charlotte Convention Center. “Plans are being made by thousands of enthusiastic Republicans and others to head to beautiful North Carolina in August,” the president wrote. “They must be immediately given an answer by the governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” Cooper said Monday that state health officials are working with the Republican National Committee and reviewing their plans for holding the convention, WSOC-TV reported. “North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health and safety,” Cooper said, according to WSOC-TV. As of Tuesday morning, 24,140 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus infections in North Carolina and 766 people have died, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Officials with the Georgia Department of Public Health said 43,586 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed statewide as of Tuesday morning with 1,853 people killed by the viral infection. New Jersey to allow for socially distanced graduation ceremonies Update 10:45 a.m. EDT May 26: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey announced Tuesday that schools will be allowed to begin holding outdoor graduation ceremonies in July provided they comply with social distancing measures. Murphy said the ceremonies will be allowed beginning July 6. The date is about two weeks later than graduations are typically held, according to North Jersey.com. 4,043 new coronavirus infections reported in the UK Update 10:35 a.m. EDT May 26: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 4,043 new coronavirus infections Tuesday morning, raising the country’s total number of infections to 265,227. Officials said that as of 5 p.m. local time Monday, the most recent date for which data was available, 37,048 people had died nationwide of COVID-19. Wall Street up as recovery hopes overshadow virus worries Update 9:50 a.m. EDT May 26: Wall Street opened sharply higher Tuesday as hopes for economic recovery overshadow worries over the coronavirus pandemic. The S&P 500 jumped to nearly a 3-month high, recovering much of its post-pandemic losses. Investors are shifting their focus to how various nations are adapting to getting back to business, while striving to keep new COVID-19 cases in check. Reassuring comments by the head of China’s central bank also helped spur buying. Benchmarks in Paris, London and Tokyo also gained on Tuesday. Brooklyn Nets allowed to begin voluntary player workouts, reopen training facility Update 9:05 a.m. EDT May 26: Officials with the Brooklyn Nets said the NBA team plans to reopen its practice training facility Tuesday, two days after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said professional sports teams in the state would be allowed to begin spring training statewide. In a statement obtained by CNN, team officials said they plan to reopen the HSS Training Center for voluntary player workouts beginning Tuesday. “The organization will strictly follow the protocols outlined by the NBA and infectious disease experts to ensure that all precautions are taken in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment for players and staff,” the statement said, according to CNN. Several Nets players, including Kevin Durant, tested positive for coronavirus infections in March. Global deaths near 347K, total cases soar past 5.5M Update 7:44 a.m. EDT May 26: The global death toll attributed to the novel coronavirus reached 346,700 early Tuesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 5,518,905 people worldwide. Meanwhile, 13 nations now have total infection counts higher than China’s 84,102.  The 10 nations with the highest number of infections recorded to date are as follows: • The United States has reported 1,662,768 cases, resulting in 98,223 deaths. • Brazil has recorded 374,898 cases, resulting in 23,473 deaths. • Russia has confirmed 362,342 cases, resulting in 3,807 deaths. • The United Kingdom has reported 262,547 cases, resulting in 36,996 deaths. • Spain has confirmed 235,400 cases, resulting in 26,834 deaths. • Italy has reported 230,158 cases, resulting in 32,877 deaths. • France has confirmed 183,067 cases, resulting in 28,460 deaths. • Germany has reported 180,802 cases, resulting in 8,323 deaths. • Turkey has recorded 157,814 cases, resulting in 4,369 deaths • India has recorded 146,371 cases, resulting in 4,187 deaths. Colorado restaurant owners sue state over Mother’s Day license suspension Update 7:08 a.m. EDT May 26: The owners of a Colorado restaurant who defied statewide shutdown orders by allowing throngs of customers to dine on Mother’s Day have field suit against the state for having their license suspended. The suit was filed Friday by the owners of C&C Coffee & Kitchen in Castle Rock against Gov. Jared Polis; the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and its director; and the local tri-county health department in Douglas County District Court, The Washington Post reported. The suit alleges owners Jesse and April Arellano were denied their “livelihood and ability to operate their business after they simply allowed customers onto their premises to serve food and beverages.” More specifically, it claims that Polis’ statewide restrictions lack empirical evidence to accurately quantify the novel coronavirus pandemic’s toll because they are based on “fluctuating, often inaccurate projections,” the Post reported. Meanwhile, Polis announced Monday that Colorado restaurants will be allowed to reopen dining rooms beginning Wednesday but with strict capacity measures enforced, The Denver Post reported. Global coronavirus cases top 5.5 million Update 5:53 a.m. EDT May 26: The worldwide total of novel coronavirus cases eclipsed 5.5 million early Tuesday. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, a total of 5,508,904 cases have now been diagnosed globally, resulting in at least 346,508 deaths. South Korea links nearly 250 coronavirus cases to popular Seoul entertainment district Published 4:41 a.m. EDT May 26: A popular nightlife district in South Korean capital Seoul has been linked officially to 247 novel coronavirus cases since social distancing restrictions were eased. According to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 83,000 tests have been performed specific to the Itaweon district outbreak, and about 30% of those who tested positive have remained asymptomatic. D.C. officials confident they can contain coronavirus by July Published 3:33 a.m. EDT May 26: The greater Washington, D.C., area could have enough testing equipment, laboratory capacity and contact tracers to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, but only if the public remains vigilant, The Washington Post reported. According to public health officials in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, the region is expected to reach peak capacity for testing and tracing by June or early July, the Post reported. Read more here. Largest Latin American airline files for bankruptcy amid coronavirus disruptions Update 2:14 a.m. EDT May 26: LATAM Airlines Group has filed for bankruptcy, and the largest Latin American airline cites the novel coronavirus pandemic as the primary cause. In a statement posted to its website, the company said it will reorganize operations under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States. Specifically, CEO Roberto Alvo said LATAM will refocus “on transforming our group to adapt to a new and evolving way of flying, with the health and safety of our passengers and employees being paramount.' No immediate impact is expected to affect reservations, employee pay, flight vouchers or passenger and cargo operations, according to the statement. US coronavirus cases approach 1.7M, deaths surpass 98K Update 1:08 a.m. EDT May 26: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged toward 1.7 million early Tuesday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,662,302 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 98,223 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 362,764 cases and 29,229 deaths and New Jersey with 155,092 cases and 11,147 deaths. Massachusetts, with 93,271 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,416, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 112,017. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Five other states have now confirmed at least 51,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 96,400 cases, resulting in 3,769 deaths • Pennsylvania: 71,925 cases, resulting in 5,146 deaths • Texas: 56,409 cases, resulting in 1,533 deaths • Michigan: 54,881 cases, resulting in 5,241 deaths • Florida: 51,746 cases, resulting in 2,252 deaths Meanwhile, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 40,000 cases; Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 31,000 cases; Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases; Iowa, Arizona and Wisconsin each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases; Alabama and Rhode Island each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases, followed by Mississippi with 13,458; Missouri and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 10,178 and Kansas with 9,125; Delaware, Kentucky, Utah and the District of Columbia each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases; Nevada and New Mexico each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases; Oklahoma and Arkansas each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The FBI is investigating after video surfaced early Tuesday that appeared to show a police officer holding a knee against a man’s neck as he struggled to breathe shortly before he was pronounced dead at a hospital. The 10-minute video was caught by Darnella Frazier, who was on her way to meet with friends Monday night when she saw a man on the ground near a police cruiser and began to record, The Washington Post reported. In the video, later posted on Facebook, the man on the ground can be heard shouting that he can't breathe. “Don’t kill me!” he said, according to the Post. In a news briefing early Tuesday with police Chief Medaria Arradondo, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the officer seen in the video with his knee to the man’s neck “failed in the most basic human sense,” according to KARE. 'For five minutes we watched as a white officer pressed his knee to the neck of a black man,' he said. 'For five minutes.' Police said they were called around 8 p.m. Monday to a report of a forgery in progress on the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South. Officers who responded found a man in his 40s who was believed to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Police said officers ordered him to step away from his car and that afterward he “physically resisted officers.” 'Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,' police said in a statement released after the incident. 'Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.' In video of the incident, bystanders can be heard questioning officers’ treatment of the man. “He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro,” a bystander tells one of the two responding officers in the video, according to WCCO. “You’re (expletive) stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?” The video shows when the man on the ground appears to lose consciousness. “Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth … that he should be with us this morning,” Frey said Tuesday, according to KARE. The two officers who responded to the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave as authorities investigate, according to WCCO. Neither the officers nor the man who died were identified.
  • An Arizona man said a stray bullet nearly struck him while he slept early Sunday. Ian Foxworthy, of Gilbert, said he and his partner were asleep around 1:30 a.m. when they were awakened by a noise, KNXV reported. “We woke up, switched on the light, and took a couple minutes to really piece together,” Foxworthy told the television station. “We thought maybe our ceiling fan had exploded.” Moments later, Foxworthy discovered a bullet and a hole in the bed’s headboard. “Had the bullet come through the headboard another 4 inches either direction it would have struck one of us,” Foxworthy told KNXV. “Had it been down a little bit more it would have killed one of our dogs.” Foxworthy said his home security camera caught the sound of the shot, but he is not sure where it came from or who fired the trigger. “It would be much simpler if we could point to, like, a motive or something like that,” Foxworthy told KNXV. “That would give us more peace of mind than not knowing anything. “This is like a one in a billion instance, I feel like. It was just a miracle, really.
  • Andre Drummond is a big man in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ lineup. He’s an even bigger man in the eyes of a South Florida waitress. Drummond, the 6-foot, 11-inch center for the NBA’s Cavs, left a $1,000 tip for a waitress at Che Restaurant in Delray Beach after his Sunday brunch, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Drummond’s bill came to $164. the newspaper reported. Server Kassandra Diaz could not believe it when she saw the receipt, ESPN reported. “When I was given the checkbook, I went to put in the tip & information to close the table and I couldn’t believe it,” Diaz wrote on Instagram next to a photograph of the receipt. “From a $160 check, the tip read $1,000. I was shaking and had tears of happiness after what he left me.” Drummond responded, “Thank you for being amazing.” The restaurant also posted a photograph of the receipt. Diaz went back to Drummond to make sure the tip was not a mistake. But Drummond, who was traded to the Cavs from the Detroit Pistons earlier this season, was not joking “He said, ‘Of course, no problem,’” Jose Diaz, the restaurant’s manager, told the Sun-Sentinel. Restaurants in Palm Beach County reopened two weeks ago at 25% capacity, the newspaper reported. Diaz said the restaurant had been “pretty slow” over the past week. Drummond, 26, is making more than $27 million this season, according to ESPN. He also has endorsement deals with Nike and other companies, which add more than $1 million to his annual earnings. As for the $1,000, Daniela Sujoy, the restaurant’s general manager, said Diaz can keep the entire tip, the Sun-Sentinel reported. It was the second large tip at a South Florida restaurant in the past week. Former NFL player Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson left $1,000 on a $37.40 tab at a restaurant in Cooper City on May 18, the newspaper reported.