Updated at 12:10pm - NMSU Student's Killer Gets 60 Years - Albuquerque Journal

Updated at 12:10pm — NMSU Student’s Killer Gets 60 Years

Indiana woman pleaded guilty last month to stabbing 22-year-old Liette Martinez to death.

Tina L. Morris, 36, of Fort Wayne, Ind., was sentenced this morning to 60 years in prison for the April 18 stabbing death of 22-year-old Liette Martinez, a Las Cruces student who was taking classes at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, according to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Morris pleaded guilty on Aug. 20 to a single charge of murder, and had additional charges of felony murder, robbery and auto theft dismissed as part of a plea bargain, the Journal Gazette reported.

Morris' daughter was one of Martinez's two roommates at a university housing complex across the street from the school's main campus, and the older woman — who had been staying at the apartment for about two weeks unbeknownst to university officials — was accused of stabbing Martinez for allegedly being rude to her daughter, the Fort Wayne paper said.

Martinez was a graphic design major at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and was studying at the Indiana school on an exchange program.

According to the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, some members of both Morris' and Martinez's families hugged each other and wept after Judge Fran Gull pronounced sentence.

But the Las Cruces student's mother, Geraldine Martinez said in the courtroom that she wasn't able to forgive Morris yet, the News-Sentinel reported.

"Tina, we do not hate you, but we ask you why? We cannot forgive you for the pain you have caused our family and your daughter, Tanzania," Geraldine Martinez said, referring to Morris' daughter and Liette Martinez's roommate.


10:25am 8/20/08 — Guilty Plea in Las Cruces Student's Death: Fort Wayne, Ind., woman faces 45 to 60 years in prison for April's fatal stabbing of Liette Martinez.

Tina Morris, 36, today pleaded guilty to one count of murder in the April 18 stabbing death of Liette Martinez, an exchange student from New Mexico State University who was attending Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel is reporting.

Morris, the mother of three children — including Martinez's roommate, was accused of killing the 22-year-old student from Las Cruces after the two were arguing about how Martinez had treated Morris' daughter the night before the killing, the News-Sentinel said.

Morris now faces a sentence of between 45 and 60 years in prison when she is sentenced on Sept. 19, the paper reported.

It was Morris' actions following the fatal stabbing that made her defense of not guilty by reason of insanity impossible to prove, her attorney Tony Churchward told Morris' family outside the courtroom this morning.

Morris' decision to take Martinez's car and drive it to Indianapolis, where she used Martinez's credit cards made the insanity defense difficult, if not impossible to prove, Churchward told Morris's father Henry Brewer, according to the News-Sentinel.

Brewer said he had advised his daughter not to plead guilty because she had told him she stabbed Martinez in self-defense, the News-Sentinel reported.

But Brewer also told the paper that his heart went out to the Martinez family in Las Cruces.

"Any time you send your child to school, you want the best for them. It's just unfortunate it happened," Brewer told the News-Sentinel.


5:35am 6/4/08 — Insanity Plea for Liette Martinez's Accused Killer?: Indiana judge orders psychiatric exam for mother of slain Las Cruces student's roommate.

An Indiana judge has ordered psychiatric examinations for 36-year-old Tina Loraine Morris of Fort Wayne, Ind., who is charged with murder in the April 18 stabbing death of her daughter's roommate, 22-year-old Liette Martinez of Las Cruces, The Associated Press is reporting.

Martinez was found stabbed to death in Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne dorm room, where she was studying on an exchange-student program from New Mexico State University.

Morris' attorney said he is considering an insanity defense, according to the AP.

A psychiatrist and psychologist will examine Morris later this month, the AP reported.


1:50pm 5/19/08 — Trial Set in Las Cruces Student's Death: Indiana woman accused of killing 22-year-old Liette Martinez to stand trial on Sept. 16.

Tina Morris, 36, will be tried for murder, felony murder and auto theft on Sept. 16 in connection with the April 18 stabbing death of 22-year-old Liette Martinez of Las Cruces in a dormitory at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, a Fort Wayne television station is reporting.

Martinez, a student at New Mexico State University who was attending the Indiana school as an exchange student was stabbed and beaten in her campus apartment, according to earlier reports.

Morris is the mother of one of Martinez's Indiana roommates and allegedly told police she "confronted" Martinez over remarks made about her daughter, earlier reports said.

Prosecutors late last month told Indiana's News Center (Fort Wayne stations WPTA-TV, WISE-TV and CW) that they would not be seeking the death penalty for Morris if she is convicted.


11:55am 4/24/08 — Woman Formally Charged in Student's Death: Funeral Mass today in Las Cruces for NMSU student slain in Indiana.

The Indiana woman accused of killing 22-year-old Liette Nicole Martinez of Las Cruces was formally charged today with murder, felony murder, robbery and auto theft, the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette is reporting.

Tina L. Morris, 36, the mother of one of Martinez's two roommates at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, is being held without bond at the Allen County (Ind.) jail and is scheduled for an initial hearing Monday in Allen Superior Court, the Journal Gazette reported.

Meanwhile, a funeral Mass for Martinez, a New Mexico State University student who was attending the Indiana school on an exchange program, will be held at 2 p.m. today at Holy Cross Church in Las Cruces, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

A memorial service for Martinez will also be held at 2 p.m. Saturday on the Fort Wayne campus, according to the Sun-News and the Journal Gazette.

Geraldine Martinez of Las Cruces, the mother of the 2004 Mayfield High School graduate who was stabbed to death in her dorm room last Friday, told the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel that she and her husband were planning to go to Indiana to retrieve their daughter's belongings and car but will be unable to attend Saturday's prayer service.

"We're just amazed at how many people's lives she touched over there," Liette Martinez's mother told the Fort Wayne paper. 

Geraldine Martinez plans to meet with the suspect's daughter to tell her she does not hold her responsible for her mother's alleged actions, the News-Sentinel reported. 


7:50am 4/22/08 — Brutal Slaying Prompts Review at Indiana School: Suspect in Las Cruces student's fatal stabbing had lived in same suite for two weeks.

The suspect in last Friday's brutal stabbing death of 22-year-old Liette Martinez — the 36-year-old mother of one of Martinez's roommates — had lived in a dormitory suite at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne for about two weeks, unbeknownst to school officials, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported.

And school officials, who called Martinez's death the only violent crime to occur on campus in the school's 40-year history, vowed Monday to take a closer look at housing policies, the Journal Gazette said.

The nine-building housing complex, where Martinez was stabbed to death, does not allow any overnight guests of the opposite sex and only allows same-sex guests to stay in a unit for 72 hours, said Walt Branson, vice chancellor for financial affairs.

School officials will  discuss whether to add more resident advisers, or placing a monitor at the entrance to each of the buildings, Branson said at a Monday afternoon news conference. There are currently 21 advisers within the nine buildings, the Journal Gazette reported.

Security patrols by campus police will also increase, along with a review of the 303 security cameras placed inside and outside the buildings, eight of which were not working when checked Saturday, Branson said.

The suspect in Martinez's death, Tina Loraine Morris, remained in custody at the Allen County (Ind.) Jail, facing preliminary charges of murder and auto theft, the Journal Gazette said.

Morris had a 1998 misdemeanor conviction for criminal recklessness and was given a suspended 180-day jail sentence contingent on receiving a complete psychological assessment and counseling, according to the Fort Wayne paper. 


12:50pm 4/21/08 — Roommate's Mother Suspect in Fatal Stabbing: Indiana woman, 36, tells police she "confronted" Liette Martinez over her daughter.

Just-released court documents in last Friday's stabbing death of 22-year-old Liette Martinez of Las Cruces show that the woman accused of killing her is the mother of one Martinez's roommates, the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette is reporting. (Thanks to e-mailer Anne Gregory for the heads-up.)

Martinez, who was studying at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne under an exchange program with New Mexico State University, was found dead in her dorm room on Friday, the paper reported.

Tina Loraine Morris, 36, was arrested the following day in Indianapolis and was charged with murder as well as suspected auto theft, after Fort Wayne police told other agencies to be on the lookout for Martinez's 2006 Mazda, the Journal Gazette said.

According to court documents, Morris was the mother of one of Martinez's two roommates and had been staying in the university-owned apartment for about two weeks, the paper said.

When she was arrested, Morris told police she had "confronted" Martinez over how Martinez had spoken to her daughter the night before, the Journal Gazette reported.

Court documents said the older woman spotted a knife on Martinez's desk, and after the two fought over the knife, Morris held on and stabbed Martinez, the paper said.

Morris then took a pan of hot water off the kitchen table, threw it on Martinez and hit her face with the pan and went on stabbing Martinez, according to the documents.

Morris then changed her clothes, took Martinez's car keys from a table and took off in Martinez's car, the documents said.

The university has scheduled a news conference for this afternoon, according to the paper. 


6:15am — NMSU Student Stabbed to Death in Indiana: Fort Wayne, Ind., woman, 36, held without bond on murder, auto theft charges.

The family of Liette Nicole Martinez is in shock over the stabbing death of the 22-year-old exchange student from New Mexico State University whose body was found Friday morning in her Indiana dorm room, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

Fort Wayne, Ind., police on Saturday arrested 36-year-old Tina Loraine Morris and charged her with murder and auto theft, the Sun-News said.

Morris is being held without bond at the Allen County (Ind.) jail and is scheduled for a court appearance on Friday, officials told The Associated Press.

Martinez was a graphic design major at NMSU and was taking classes at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where she lived in the Waterfield Campus housing complex, the Sun-News said.

"She felt safe there," her mother Geraldine Martinez told the Sun-News. "Her father and I talked to her every day. She always put others before herself."

Geraldine Martinez said her daughter, a 2005 Mayfield High School graduate, loved art and loved to travel and had already been to Europe and Japan, the Sun-News reported.

"She was our baby, our only child," Geraldine Martinez told the Sun-News. "She was a good girl and loved life."

Fort Wayne police have not commented on a motive or said anything about what may have led up to the stabbing, the Sun-News said.

According to the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Journal Gazette, police had told Martinez's family before the Saturday arrest of Morris that they were looking for a woman who is related to one of Martinez's roommates.

Morris was arrested in Indianapolis on Saturday and was found to be driving Martinez's car, the Journal Gazette reported on Sunday.

But police weren't saying what relationship, if any, Morris may have had with Martinez or her roommates, the paper said. 


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