A man who killed a Chandler woman inside the convenience store she owned at an east Phoenix apartment complex more than four years ago pleaded guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court on Thursday to murder and robbery-related charges lodged against him, avoiding a trial.
However, Jesus Arturo Martinez, 24, who was living at the former Peaks of Papago Park apartment complex, 815 N. 52nd Street, still could be facing the death penalty on charges of first-degree murder, third-degree burglary, robbery and kidnapping in the death of Nisay Kang the morning of May 25, 2007.
Arturo Martinez pleaded guilty to the charges before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Paul McMurdie, the day a trial by jury was scheduled to begin.
His sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
Arturo Martinez, a permanent legal resident from Mexico, stabbed and beat Nisay Kang to death inside the convenience store she owned at the former Peaks of Papago Park apartment complex after he forced her inside to rob her.
Kang, 36, a wife and mother of a young daughter often gave Arturo Martinez merchandise when he didn’t have money to pay for it. A witness saw Arturo Martinez leaving the store carrying a purse that morning. When police served a search warrant in the apartment where Arturo Martinez was staying with friends at the complex, they found Kang’s purse with a pair of bloody scissors inside of it and $498 in blood-stained currency, according to the police report.
County prosecutors plan to push for the death penalty and present aggravating factors at the sentencing hearing such as the heinous manner of the crimes, Arturo Martinez’s prior felony convictions including marijuana possession in 2005 (a case for which he still had an outstanding warrant) and that he had planned to monetarily benefit from robbing Kang’s store, according to a county court document.
Kang’s husband, Paul Ea, told the Tribune on Thursday he was not surprised that Arturo Martinez pleaded guilty and thought he was trying to avoid the death penalty, something Ea’s family supports.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he committed the crimes,” said Ea, who plans to speak at the sentencing hearing. “I never thought the proceedings would take this long, but we’re trying to be patient to get what we want. There’s a lot of things I can’t do in life anymore. Hopefully, this will all be resolved soon.”
Arturo Martinez told Phoenix police he “was drugged up” and went into the store to “take her money,” according to a Phoenix police report. Arturo Martinez admitted to stabbing Kang with a pair of scissors after beating her with his fists inside the mini-mart at the 768-unit complex near the Scottsdale-Tempe border, according to the Phoenix police report.
Kang died of sharp and blunt-force trauma to the head and neck, according to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Arturo Martinez has been held without bond at a Maricopa County jail since the crime.
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