Crime and Safety

Woman testified before a jury that she witnessed her ex-boyfriend murder six family members in the Gage Park Massacre

A woman told a Cook County jury for about two hours on Wednesday that she witnessed her ex-boyfriend murder six members of his extended family in their Southwest Side home.

Jafeth Ramos said in court that the slaughter, which included two minor victims, was the consequence of a heist that spiraled out of hand and netted the couple only $250, jewelry, an Xbox, and a piggy bank.

Ramos testified that on February 2, 2016, she and her ex-boyfriend, Diego Uribe, were returning from a medical clinic when he informed her that they would be stopping by his aunt’s house because he had “work” to do.

Ramos told jurors, “At some time he indicated he was going to kill them” and displayed a gun, but the witness stated, “I didn’t take him seriously.”

When the couple arrived at the orange-brick cottage in Gage Park that Uribe’s aunt shared with her two daughters, brother, and parents, the family was having supper and gave them food.

Uribe requested to speak with his aunt, Maria Martinez, and Ramos stated that she followed Martinez and Uribe to his aunt’s house on the second floor.

Soon after, Uribe allegedly pulled out a revolver and demanded “all the money in the house” from 38-year-old Martinez, according to Ramos.

Ramos reported that Martinez laughed in response, but when he realized Uribe was serious, he struggled with him for the gun. Ramos said that Uribe then shot her in the forehead and multiple times more.

Ramos stated that when Noe Martinez Jr., 38, attempted to ascend the stairs, Uribe pistol-whipped him until he fell to the ground and forced his knee to his throat until he ceased moving.

When the siblings’ mother, Rosaura Martinez, followed, Uribe allegedly knocked her unconscious by kicking her down a flight of stairs. She claimed that Uribe afterwards retrieved a knife from the kitchen and repeatedly stabbed the 58-year-old victim.

Why are you chopping my throat, Diego? Ramos recalled what the woman had said.

Ramos stated that the children, Leonardo Cruz, 13, and Alexis Cruz, 10, were forced to assist in the search for valuable objects. Then, according to Ramos, she instructed the children to get their pajamas and toothbrushes, and Uribe accompanied Alexis to a bedroom in the basement.

Ramos stated that she heard a scream or a chuckle, and Uribe returned up the stairs by himself. She reported that she later down the stairs and seen the youngster lying in a pool of blood.

Ramos alleged that Uribe then trapped Leonardo in the living room, where Leonardo pleaded with Uribe, “I just want to live,” before Uribe stabbed him to death.

The couple waited for Noe Martinez Sr., 62, to arrive home before stabbing him to death, according to Ramos.

The bodies were discovered two days later when police conducted a well-being check at the residence. Several months later, Uribe and Ramos were caught, and Ramos informed authorities that Uribe had slain the family members and that she had cooperated. In May 2016, prosecutors charged both with murder, citing the discovery of Uribe’s DNA at the crime site and under Maria Martinez’s fingernails.

During cross-examination, defense counsel Martha Soto questioned Ramos on her many memory lapses during her testimony as well as an agreement with prosecutors that would allow for her eventual release from jail.

In exchange for testifying against Uribe, Ramos, now 25, pled guilty to a reduced charge of armed robbery with a suggested 25-year prison sentence last year, First Assistant State’s Attorney Risa Lanier told the jury earlier.

As Ramos recounted her story on Wednesday, Armando Cruz, the father of the two murdered children, began to cry and then departed the courtroom. Earlier in the day, he testified through a translator that he was in Mexico at the time of the murders and had spoken to his children the day before they were murdered.

During opening statements, Felicia Weiss, Uribe’s defense attorney, warned jurors, “This is going to be a hard case to sit through.” She urged them to set aside their emotions and examine the facts.

Weiss stated that there was no possibility that Uribe, age 28, could have killed all six members of the family by himself, and that the perpetrators were likely “four masked guys” who entered the home demanding money.

Weiss stated, “When the money stopped flowing, they began killing people.”

Weiss stated that Uribe recognized one of the guys, who then threatened Uribe’s family.

Diego was a coward, according to his attorney. “He didn’t speak out. He did not point fingers at anyone… However, he is not a killer.”

This year, Circuit Judge Carol Howard refused a defense motion to introduce hearsay testimony from a former FBI informant who tipped investigators that the murders were connected to the notorious Juarez cartel.

According to court documents, the informant told detectives that cartel leaders dispatched “enforcers” to Chicago to pursue Armando Cruz after he stole a $3.5 million narcotics shipment.

Before Uribe was indicted, Chicago police investigators and FBI agents interviewed the informant in Mexico, but they presumably ruled him and those he identified as the killers out as suspects.

Wednesday in court, defense counsel made no mention of the cartel.

Thursday is scheduled to be the next court date.

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