Homeless man arrested in 2009 Queens cold case

September 26, 2013 3:33:19 PM PDT
Jose Martinez was scheduled to be released from state prison on Thursday after serving time for attacking a cabbie at LaGuardia.

He was facing possible deportation to Mexico. Instead, Martinez found himself back in court accused of raping and murdering a fashion student four years ago.

Prosecutors say DNA linked the 20-year-old to the murder of Carmen Saldana, a 23-year-old student at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She was killed in July 2009.

According to prosecutors, Martinez told detectives he saw Saldana coming home from a party and offered to walk her home. When they got to Saldana's Astoria apartment and she refused to let him upstairs, he allegedly forced his way in and raped her.

Investigators say when she tried to escape, Martinez choked her and covered her naked body with a blanket.

She was found by her mother.

"Honestly, it passed so long that I thought he wasn't going to get caught, always thought he was going to get away with it," the victim's brother Carlos Saldana said. "Nothing's going to bring back my sister, but I feel very angry."

That anger was visible before the arraignment when an uncomfortable situation unfolded in the hallways of criminal court.

Court officers allowed the suspect to wait a mere 20 feet from the victim's family.

Officers warned upset family members not to do anything and nothing happened, but tensions remained high.

The victim's mother spoke to reporters after the proceedings.

"I'm very upset and feel a lot of anger because of what he did to my daughter. I feel very bad, very bad," Susanna Saldana said.

Martinez pled not guilty. He will remain in the custody of the court, due back in court in November. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison.