GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A mother accused of stabbing and killing four of her children and her husband rejected legal representation and was admonished by the judge for her unusual behavior during her first court appearance Friday morning.
Isabel Martinez, 33, was taken into custody Thursday morning after her husband and four young children were found stabbed to death, according to Gwinnett County Police. A fifth child was injured in the stabbing and was listed in serious condition as of Thursday evening.
Martinez was arrested and charged with six counts of aggravated assault, five counts of murder, and five counts of malice murder, according to the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office. Martinez is also covered by an immigration hold order issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The victims were found when officers came to a home on Emory Lane in the Loganville area. Police responded after receiving a 911 call from a woman who said several people had been stabbed.
In court Friday morning, Martinez could be seen grinning while the hearing was underway. As the judge talked about the case against her , Martinez held her arms open and swayed back and forth. At one point she held her hands together in a prayer position and nodded at the cameras. Martinez continued making a scene, getting up from her seat, laughing and giving the camera two thumbs up.
At one point the judge said to Martinez, "Ma'am I'm going to ask you to cut out the displays for the camera. It's probably not good or to your benefit."
Ms. Martinez refused an attorney, despite the judge's recommendation.
Police on Thursday discussed the brutal nature of the crime that killed Isabel's husband, 33-year-old Martin Romero and four of the couple's children.
"This is a horrendous crime," Pihera said. "This is something that we never expected in this community."
Investigators identified the young victims as Isabela Martinez, 10, Dacota Romero, 7, Dillan Romero, 4, and Axel Romero, 2.
The surviving girl's name is Diana, according to family members. She was reportedly in stable condition Thursday evening at Children's Health Care of Atlanta.
The children were well known at the nearby Path Project community center where they often attended.
"From everything I know from talking to our staff this morning, these kids were fantastic kids and had tons to live for and a future ahead of them. So, it's awful. It's devastating," said Jim Hollandsworth, of the Path Project.
Police are working to determine a motive and what led up to the deadly stabbing.
"I would take care of them. I would watch them when they were playing at the park. And I got to know them and they were really active, really nice people," said Pedro Ramirez, a neighbor of the family.
Neighbors said the family had just moved into the area about five months ago and they seemed normal, but some said Martinez recently fell into a deep depression after the death of her father.
"The wife, her father passed away a few days ago and she fell into a depression and she was stressed," said Ramirez.
Martinez is expected to remain in the Gwinnett County Jail without bond. Her preliminary hearing is set for Thursday, July 20 at 8:30 am.
FOX 5 received this statement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office:
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lodged an immigration detainer against Maria Isabel Garduno-Martinez, 33, an illegally present Mexican national, July 6 following her arrest on multiple murder charges by local law enforcement in Gwinnett County, Georgia. ICE is focused on identifying, arresting and removing public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws.”