Stabbed In the Heart

When Laura Martinez was killed while helping a friend, her family's dreams died, too.

It certainly took a bad twist for Laura the first week of September.
On September 2, Lydia had a fight with Omar that resulted in her kicking him out of the apartment they shared. But according to police reports, after the fight, 24-year-old Lydia moved in with Laura at the family's house on Grove Street instead of staying in Aurora. On the night of September 5, Lydia went back to her apartment. Later that night, Lydia called Laura and asked her to come pick her up. The plan was that Laura's mother would take care of Guillermo III and Lydia's three children while the younger women went out to a quincianera party.

While Laura, her mother and her infant son were on the way to pick up Lydia, according to police, Omar called the apartment and told Lydia he was coming over to kill her and anyone else who was with her.

"Omar had problems with Laura talking to Lydia to start off with," says Guillermo. "He was mad at Laura because he thought she was talking bad about him. He thought she was the one who got him away from his novia."

Guillermo says that when his mother and sister pulled into the parking lot outside Lydia's apartment in their red Plymouth Neon, Omar was right behind them in his red Buick. Seeing this from her apartment window, Lydia ran out of the apartment with her three children, ages nine, seven and four, screaming to Laura that they needed to get out of there. Laura helped get Lydia and her kids into the car, but as she scurried to get in the driver's side, Omar intercepted her. She got in, but Omar wouldn't let her close the door.

Guillermo says Omar often acted like a gang member, enhancing his attitude with what police describe as "tattoos consistent with gang-related activity" and carrying a red San Francisco 49ers handkerchief. But he says Omar was strictly small-time. Up until the night of the murder, his rap sheet consisted of three traffic violations. The Aurora police report says Bozo--the Spanish version, "Boso," is tattooed on his leg and his arm--didn't claim any gang affiliation after being arrested, and they don't have him in their gang database.

"He's just a typical pinche gangster," says Guillermo. "He'd been over to our house before, and I never thought he could do anything like this. My sister is a brave girl. She would fight any man. And since Omar is only 5-8, she wouldn't be scared of him. I think the way Lydia was screaming was what frightened Laura. But my mom said that Laura was sitting in the driver's seat looking straight ahead the whole time. My mom was the one who got out of the car with the baby and was telling Omar to get away from the car. Laura never said anything to him.

"All my mom remembers happening after that is Omar grabbing something from the front of his pants and reaching around her to thrust it at Laura. Laura grabbed her chest, and Omar started running. My mom started screaming for help, and Laura got out of the car. She kinda slumped over the trunk of this other car and was fading...fading... until she finally faded away."

Denver police and paramedics arrived on the scene to find Laura on the ground in a pool of blood, unresponsive. Her mother was sitting on the ground holding her. They found the murder weapon, a large kitchen knife, nearby and put out an APB with Omar's description. Omar was stopped at 10:18 p.m. by an Aurora police cruiser, about ten minutes after the stabbing. He was pulled over for running a stop sign. Based on the APB description and the fact that Omar was sweating profusely, the cops took him into custody.

At 10:56, Laura Rosa Martinez-Cuevas was pronounced dead at Columbia North Hospital, her heart having been stabbed "through and through," according to the police report.

"I don't think it was a case of mistaken identity," says Guillermo. "It would be too much of a coincidence. Omar knew Laura was talking to Lydia and that she was coming over to see her. He didn't confuse the two. My sister got stabbed instead of Lydia."

Guillermo Martinez was just closing up the sporting-goods store when he got a phone call from his mom.

"Mom called, and she was big-time crying," he recalls. "She didn't even know where she was, let alone where they'd taken Laura. She thought that Laura was taken to Denver General. Since none of the cops spoke Spanish, my mom didn't have any idea what was going on.

"My dad and I went to Denver General, and the cops and nurses on duty were total asses. I had to wait fifteen minutes before they figured out that my sister wasn't there. Then, when I asked if they could call to find out what hospital she was at, the cop told me to look in the phone book, and the nurses told me to call the operator.

"When we finally got to the right hospital, they brought me and my dad and my cousin into this little room. Then this doctor comes in and just says, 'She's dead,' or something like that. At least he could've told me she fought hard for her life or something. But instead he just told us she died after getting stabbed in the heart. My dad couldn't understand any of it, so I translated for him. Then they brought in this super-white priest to talk to my dad. He couldn't speak Spanish, either, and by that point, I wasn't feeling like translating."

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