Isabel Martinez gestures towards news cameras during her first court appearance Friday, July 7, 2017, in Lawrenceville, Ga. Martinez is charged with killing four of her of children and their father. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Photo: John Bazemore
Photo: John Bazemore

Mother accused of killing 4 children, husband acts bizarre in court

The Gwinnett mother accused of stabbing to death her husband and four of their children appeared in court for the first time Friday morning — smiling for cameras and telling the judge she doesn’t want an attorney.

“I don’t need an attorney,” Isabel Martinez said through an interpreter. “My attorney is the people that we are fighting for…It does not matter what color you are because God loves us all.”

Martinez, 33, is accused of killing the four children and their father early Thursday morning at the family’s home in Loganville. A fifth child, a daughter, was also attacked but survived. Martinez was arrested later Thursday and was being held without bond at the Gwinnett jail.

PHOTOS: Georgia mother charged with stabbing family smiles in court

MORE: Gwinnett child slayings likely among deadliest in recent U.S. history

Her behavior in court Friday was bizarre and erratic as she smiled to the media and gave two thumbs-up to the cameras. She put her hands together as if she was praying and had a smirk on her face, never appearing remorseful.

“I’m going to caution you to cut off the display for the cameras,” Judge Michael Thorpe told Martinez. “It’s really not a good idea. Probably not to your benefit. I can’t physically stop you from doing it, but it ain’t a good idea.”

Family Shot: A public GoFundMe site contained this undated picture of the Romero family. The site was set up by a family member and shows Martin Romero and his children. Photo: GoFundMe Romero Family Funeral and Medical Fund.

The judge also advised Martinez against not obtaining an attorney, but she adamantly shook her head. Her words that followed made little sense.

“It’s just that for me, the hope are always going to be the people and my faith … those are my friends, that’s why I’m here,” Martinez said. “It doesn’t matter here, anything else. I’m here representing the people (that are) humble and hardworking. The people that suffer. The people that have a lot of charges so that they understand that everything is possible with God.”

MORE PHOTOS: Children, father stabbed to death in Loganville

Thorpe told Martinez her next court appearance will be July 20 at 8:30 a.m.

“We are concluded with you,” the judge said. “You probably need to stop talking.”

But whether or not she wants an attorney, it may not be Martinez’s decision to make, said Bob Rubin, a criminal defense attorney not involved with the case. Martinez has the right to represent herself, but only if she’s competent to make that decision, he said.

“If she waives the right to counsel, the judge really has to explore whether she’s capable of making a knowing and voluntary waiver of right,” Rubin said.

Gwinnett Police are charging Isabel Martinez with murdering four of her five children and their father. The fifth child is hospitalized in serious condition

Police identified the victims as Martin Romero, 33, and the four siblings killed were 2-year-old Axel, 4-year-old Dillan, 7-year-old Dacota and 10-year-old Isabela Martinez. Nine-year-old Diana Romero was also stabbed and flown by helicopter to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she underwent emergency surgery and is expected to remain for two or three weeks, according to a GoFund Me page set up by family members.

The children and their father were already dead when police arrived at the family’s mobile home on Emory Lane around 5 a.m. Thursday. Martinez had called 911 at 4:47 a.m. requesting help.

Family Shot: A public GoFundMe site contained this undated picture of the Romero family. The site was set up by a family member and shows Martin Romero and his children. Photo: GoFundMe Romero Family Funeral and Medical Fund.

Police declined to release details about a possible motive or whether Martinez confessed to the killings. She was charged with five counts of malice murder, five counts of murder and six charges of aggravated assault.

Also, an immigration hold was placed on Martinez. Immigration officials said Friday that Martinez illegally entered the U.S. from Mexico. But because it was her first encounter with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it was unknown how long she has been in the country, according to Bryan Cox, a spokesman for the agency. Martinez told police her husband was also in the U.S. illegally, Cox said.

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