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Family Of Slain FIT Student Faces Alleged Killer In Court

23-Year-Old Carmen Saldana Was Suffocated In Her Astoria Home In 2009

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The family members of a Queens fashion student who was raped and killed in her home four years ago said Thursday they are relieved a suspect has finally been arrested.

As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, Jose Martinez, a 30-year-old homeless man, appeared in court Thursday, while Saldana’s family looked on. Martinez was arraigned on a 15-count indictment that includes charges of murder, kidnapping, predatory sexual assault, criminal sex act and burglary.

Martinez is accused of suffocating Carmen Saldana, a 23-year-old Fashion Institute of Technology student, at her family’s apartment in the Astoria section of Queens in July 2009. He pleaded not guilty.

Jose Martinez, left, is accused of killing Carmen Saldana in 2009. (credit: CBS 2/Handout)

Jose Martinez, left, is accused of killing Carmen Saldana in 2009. (credit: CBS 2/Handout)

“I feel very bad, a lot of anger against him for what he did to my daughter,” Carmen’s mother, Maria Saldana, said in Spanish outside Queens Supreme Court in Kew Gardens. “He is a liar. All he does is lie. He is an animal.”

Claudia Correa, a high school friend of Saldana’s, described seeing the suspect in court: “When I saw him, I had no words. I couldn’t believe it. I was overwhelmed.”

Martinez pleaded guilty to attacking a taxi driver last year and was scheduled to be released from prison Thursday. But investigators got a hit when they ran his DNA through a database, and it matched DNA found at the Saldana crime scene, prosecutors said.

“I think my sister fought this person, and his DNA was on his finergnails,” said Carlos Saldana, Carmen’s brother.

Prosecutors say Martinez made a statement incriminating himself. A judge ordered him to be held without bail until his next court date in November.

In a news release, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Saldana “had a bright and promising future which was abruptly cut short by her brutal and senseless murder, allegedly
at the hands of the defendant. This case will be vigorously prosecuted to ensure that justice is served on behalf of the victim and her family.”

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