Family, friends speak out after courtroom chaos in Camden, NJ
CAMDEN, N.J. - May 29, 2012 (WPVI) -- Family and friends of murder victim Sophia Ortiz are speaking out after the arraignment for her alleged killer erupted in chaos Tuesday.
The outburst in Camden County Superior Court was captured on camera by Action News shortly after 2:00 p.m.
As Assistant County Prosecutor Christine Shah was detailing the murder and related charges against suspect Julio Martinez, 24, suddenly a relative of the victim went after Martinez.
Chaos erupted in the courtroom. As roughly two dozen grieving relatives looked on, 17-year-old Fabian Ortiz's emotions boiled over. Deputies had to restrain him as he tried to go over the rail.
Ortiz's cousin Sophia was stabbed to death Friday night, right on front of her two children. Martinez is the one and only suspect.
Fortunately no one was injured in the courtroom melee. The deputies did not arrest the young Ortiz.
"They just gave him a hug and said they understand what he's going through," said another cousin, Jose Quinones.
Sophia Ortiz was only 22. Both her children are less than 2 years old. Martinez, the suspect, is the children's father. But the couple was bitterly estranged.
She obtained a restraining order against him on Friday, but it was never served.
Police say Martinez had come to Ortiz's apartment on Boyd Street several times in the hours leading up to the late-night murder. But each time he eluded police.
Around 11:30, police say, he crashed through a 2nd floor window and stabbed Ortiz to death with a knife that had a blade 8" to 10" long.
The young mother was struggling to make it until the Christmas holidays. She and the children were living in a shelter.
"I got her into the apartment and her case worker helped her. She was a very, very nice person, had beautiful kids. Never gave me a problem, always was on time with her payment. It's just a tragedy," said her landlord, Wilfred Cruz.
"It's just a tragedy that the family had to go through this due to somebody doesn't have knowledge based on a human," said Quinones.
No one was injured in the courtroom scuffle.
The arraignment continued and Martinez was ordered held for trial.
Bail for Martinez was set at $1 million.
new jersey, trial, camden county, local/state
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