Thursday, February 08, 2001

Hamilton man guilty of woman's murder

Sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for stabbing victim dozens of times

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — After less than an hour of deliberation, a Butler County jury on Wednesday afternoon found a 35-year-old Hamilton man guilty of murdering a woman who was stabbed dozens of times.

        Common Pleas Judge H.J. Bressler immediately sentenced Martin Delores Rivera-Carrillo to 15 years to life, a mandatory sentence under Ohio law. Defense lawyer Chris Pagan said an appeal is likely.

        “I believe the jury did the right thing. The act this man did was brutal,” said Steve Roark, husband of Tracey Jean Roark, who bled to death July 15. Mr. Roark had been attending the trial, which began Monday. A Spanish-language interpreter was used throughout the proceedings because Mr. Rivera-Carrillo, a native of Mexico, has limited understanding of English.

        Assistant Prosecutor Brenda Cox called the jury's verdict “fair and just.” She interpreted its quick decision as “an indicator of the amount of evidence” showing the defendant purposely killed Ms. Roark.

        Mr. Pagan said he and his client viewed the case differently, “but I have great faith in the jury system.”

        It was clear that Mr. Rivera-Carrillo killed Ms. Roark, Mr. Pagan said. Her blood was found all over his van and also on him.

        So the lawyers' arguments centered on the defendant's state of mind at the time of the killing.

        Mr. Pagan said his client acted in a “blind rage” because Ms. Roark provoked him by trying to steal money and lunged at him with the utility knife that became the murder weapon. “The 50 stab wounds, that tells us he was in a rage. ... You can look into my client's mind from that very thing,” Mr. Pagan said, arguing that his client committed voluntary manslaughter, a lesser offense.

        But Ms. Cox showed the jury a photograph of Ms. Roark's bloody corpse and said, “That's what this is: murder.”

        Ms. Cox urged the jury not to buy Mr. Rivera-Carrillo's account of the events leading to Ms. Roark's death. The more likely possibility was a sex deal gone bad, Ms. Cox said, given Ms. Roark's history of prostitution.

        Mr. Roark acknowledged his wife had problems but said she was a good person and the mother of a 17-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy, both of whom watched portions of the trial.

        “What happened to her, no human being needed to go through something like that,” he said.


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