Gage Park murders: Diego Uribe found guilty of killing 6 relatives in Chicago home in 2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Gage Park murders: Diego Uribe found guilty of killing 6 relatives in Chicago home in 2016
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In the Gage Park murders trial, Diego Uribe has been found guilty on six counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his six family members.

CHICAGO -- A Cook County jury found a man guilty in the deaths of six members of his extended family - including two children - at their Gage Park home, a case that prosecutors said was the result of a robbery that "spiraled out of control."

Jurors deliberated more than 10 hours before finding Diego Uribe, 28, guilty on all six counts of first-degree murder. Uribe sat in silence as the verdicts were read.

This was a case that tormented the victims' family for years. But Wednesday's guilty verdict means they can finally start to move forward with honoring their loved ones and putting this tragedy behind them.

Six years after the brutal murders of his two children and family members, Armando Cruz Jimenez said his family never doubted justice would be served.

"I just want to remember them all with love and not with this pain," Armando Cruz Jimenez said in Spanish. "But, it's still difficult."

Cruz Jimenez said that he does not know the person Uribe has become and that he is not the same child he saw grow up.

"I don't know at what moment he became the monster he is today," Cruz Jimenez said in Spanish. "He was always very calm. It's difficult to see to see that as they spoke about him, he laughed and pointed. It's hard. I don't know who that person is."

Uribe's defense attorneys argued there was no way he could have killed all of them by himself. They acknowledged Uribe was present but claimed the murders were committed by a group of masked men looking for money who threatened Uribe into staying quiet.

"How could one person have overpowered six people fighting for their lives and killed them in such a brutal fashion?" Assistant Public Defender Margaret Domin asked jurors in her closing argument. "It doesn't make sense."

RELATED: Gage Park massacre: Jurors view graphic crime scene, autopsy photos from mass murder of 6 relatives

Prosecutors countered that it was because of Uribe's relationship to the victims that he was able to carry out the killings without anyone escaping or calling police.

"The reason that this happened is because of trust," Assistant State's Attorney Patrick Waller said. "Because he was family, he was able to do that."

"It's never going to make perfect logical sense, but the bottom line is he wanted money," Waller added.

SEE MORE: Chicago violence: Jury selection set to begin for Gage Park mass murder case

Prosecutors had a strong case: They played clips of Uribe confessing to detectives and said Uribe's DNA matched blood found at the crime scene and his cellphone records showed he had traveled to the area and then home on the day of the attack.

But the most damning witness at the trial was Uribe's former girlfriend, who testified in chilling detail that she was present as he shot, bludgeoned or stabbed each victim one by one.

Jafeth Ramos, 25, said the couple was on their way home from a medical appointment on Feb. 2, 2016, when Uribe showed her a "cowboy gun" and told her he had "a job" to do at the home his aunt, Maria Martinez, shared with her children, brother and parents in the 5700 block of South California Avenue.

At the small, brick bungalow, Uribe and Ramos were offered food, but Uribe declined and asked to speak privately with his aunt.

In her small apartment located in the home's attic, Uribe then held his aunt at gunpoint and demanded money before shooting her repeatedly when they struggled over the weapon, Ramos said.

When his aunt's brother, Noe Martinez Jr., went to investigate, Uribe beat him unconscious with the gun until it broke and then knelt on his neck, prosecutors said.

When the siblings' mother, Rosaura Martinez, 58, threatened to call police, Uribe kicked her down a flight of stairs and stabbed her dozens of times with a kitchen knife, before forcing the two children - 13-year-old Leonard Cruz and 10-year-old Alexis Cruz - to help search for valuables.

Prosecutors said the robbery netted Uribe $250 in cash, some jewelry, an Xbox and the contents of a piggy bank.

Ramos' voice wavered as she recalled Uribe following Alexis to a basement bedroom where he stabbed the boy repeatedly in the abdomen and then cornered Leonardo in the living room and fatally stabbed him as well while the boy begged for his life.

The couple then waited for Noe Martinez Sr., 62, to return to the home from picking up food, and Uribe stabbed him as well, Ramos said.

Uribe's lawyers said Ramos got a "sweetheart deal" from prosecutors that included pleading guilty to a reduced charge of armed robbery with a suggested 25-year prison term in return for her testimony.

Prosecutors reminded jurors Ramos had confessed to detectives months after the murders and long before there was a deal.

"What could possibly be her motive to lie?" Waller asked.

Uribe's defense attorney did not have a formal comment following the verdict, but said they plan to file for a new trial next month.

WLS-TV's Cate Cauguiran and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.