Stabbed In the Heart

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

While Guillermo was at the hospital, his mother and Lydia were with the Aurora police, who kept them separated during interviews. It was during the interviews that the women were told that Laura had died.

Debbie Kunkel-Benson, coordinator of the Aurora Police Department's victim-services unit, says that a staff member tried to console Mrs. Martinez and Lydia when they were at the police station.

"We have no one on staff who speaks Spanish," explains Kunkel-Benson, then adds that "in this case, it was kind of neat. Even though the advocate didn't speak Spanish, she didn't feel like there was a language barrier. She could tell what their basic needs were. Like when they needed to go to the bathroom or needed a drink of water. Really, all you can say, in any language, is 'Sorry.' You can't say anything that'll fix it.

"As far as telling her that her daughter was dead, I guess the advocate felt like she knew enough English to understand."

Guillermo Martinez remains furious about the fact that he and his father weren't the ones to break the news to his mother.

"Can you imagine being with the cops all alone and having them tell you that your daughter is dead in a language you can't understand?" he asks angrily. "Then they make her stay [at the police station] for hours and took pictures of her standing there in her bloody clothes. They didn't let her change out of them for almost two hours. And the whole time, they're questioning her like psychos. And when they finally let her go, the cops didn't know where the baby was. When we found him at a friend's house at 2 a.m., he was still wearing Pampers covered with blood."

Bozo, the alleged killer, is scheduled to go before an Arapahoe County judge for a preliminary hearing on November 12. He's being charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. Detective Craig Piel of the Aurora Police Department says only that he knows where the primary witnesses are and that he's not worried about getting them back for the hearing. "We've got a good case," says Piel.

The Arapahoe County District Attorney's Office is even more tight-lipped. Spokespeople say it's against departmental policy for them to discuss cases before or during a trial. But of the more than twenty Aurora homicides this year, five have involved a domestic issue or problem, says Aurora police spokesman Mark Hellenschmidt. And this one has an eyewitness.

That may mean that the good guys will win one. For now, cops and investigators have been maxed out by the spate of violence in Aurora.

"Nothing like this has ever happened in Aurora before," says victim-services coordinator Kunkel-Benson. "We're all pretty tired, but we support each other and have spent a lot of time educating ourselves about how to take care of ourselves."

Guillermo Martinez wants to know who's taking care of justice for his family. He feels ignored by police and frustrated that the lead detective was on vacation when he returned from Mexico. "It's like they just kind of forgot about us," he says.

But a more immediate concern for Guillermo is whether his mother, the key witness to the murder, will be able to handle the emotional strain of coming back and testifying against Bozo.

"I talked to my mom today," says Guillermo, "and she's still crying. She's having a lot of flashbacks." He doesn't expect his parents to stay in Denver any longer than it takes to put Omar away. And Guillermo is hoping to be back in Mexico by Christmas.

"I really liked certain things about Denver," he says. "I grew up here since the sixth grade. I learned how to ski. I know the American way of life. But when I go back to Mexico, I'll probably say that I didn't like these things. In a lot of ways, America lives up to its stereotype of drugs and violence. If I stayed here, I'm afraid that within the next five years, I'd probably end up doing something bad.

"So instead, I'm going back to take care of Laura's baby. I'm going to be his legal guardian. I want to make sure the baby gets a good life. Now I've really only got two options: me and the baby.

"When I think about Laura's murder, I think about what one family friend said to my parents. They said that they were 'too nice.' They said that my parents would even let the devil walk into their house. Well, maybe Omar is the devil. He did a lot of damage to our family.

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