It’s been a little more than four years since Alisa Ea has been greeted with a smile from her mother in the kitchen, and that’s just one of the things the 13-year-old girl misses after she wakes up.
Her mother Nisay Kang, the wife of Chandler resident Paul Ea, was beaten and stabbed to death inside the convenient store she owned and operated inside the former Peaks at Papago Park apartment complex in east Phoenix the morning of May 25, 2007. In the weeks ahead, a jury of nine men and six women will decide whether the man — to whom the couple often extended credit when he didn’t have the money to pay for items and who later killed the 36-year-old woman for cash, cigars and a few cans of Monster energy drink — will be sent to prison for life or receive the death penalty.
Jesus Arturo Martinez, 24, the man who killed Kang, pleaded guilty Aug. 25 to charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery and burglary in connection with Kang’s death before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Paul McMurdie, avoiding a trial.
Arturo Martinez had beaten Kang about the head and neck, repeatedly stabbed her in the face with a pen and ultimately killed her by slashing her jugular vein and carotid artery with a pair of scissors before ripping her clothes and underwear off and leaving her lying in a pool of blood. She put up a fight — hitting Arturo Martinez back, bruising his arm and scratching his face, but her 5-foot-3 frame was no match for him as he swung at her in a drug-induced frenzy, high on cocaine. Witnesses later saw Arturo Martinez walking away from the back of the store, carrying a purse.
In the first two days of an emotional sentencing phase hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, Alisa and her father also read impact statements as to how the crime affected them and what else was taken that morning. Arturo Martinez was present, and often looked down during the hearing, holding his face in his hands.
Alisa talked about her mother as being someone who was always smiling and friendly to everyone who came into the store and allowed any pets inside, including a boa constrictor someone brought in one day.
“I miss my mom,” Alisa said. The one thing my mother always wanted me to do was to learn how to play the violin,” Alisa said between tears. “Sometimes I would like to quit, but my determination (to continue playing) comes from the day she was taken. I just wish things could be the same where I would wake up, go to school and see my mom.”
She also described her mother as loving, hard-working, brilliant, bold and goofy.
“Those are just a few of the qualities of my mother,” Alisa said.
John Canby, the Maricopa County public defender who is representing Arturo Martinez and described him as a “good kid” who had never victimized others and showed up at the door of the mini mart under significant impairment, said: “We are not here to excuse what he did. The issue now is how he will die in prison. He has been remorseful since the first day of committing the crime.”
Ea, who also was emotional, described his wife as an extraordinary lady and said that everyone called her “Poch,” a Cambodian word for a small plant, something that just stuck out of the ground, because Kang was small in stature, but not to be underestimated.
Both Ea’s and Kang’s fathers were killed during the bloody Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia in the 1970s.
“She didn’t like blood, but she worked as a nurse in the war zone,” Ea said. “She didn’t like gambling, but she worked as a dealer in a casino. She would do anything for her family.”
In two videotapes shown in court of Arturo Martinez being interviewed by a Phoenix police detective, one showed him as remorseful, saying he was “drugged up on cocaine,” (that he often stole from his girlfriend’s brother), and that he only wanted to take her money, but that he didn’t want to get caught.
“I just beat her up and stabbed her,” told the detective. “You know it’s me. Do what you have to do to me. I just want to deal with my actions and consequences.”
Another videotape of Arturo Martinez in an earlier interview showed a detective telling him that all of the evidence was recovered in his friend’s apartment including Kang’s purse, blood-stained currency and underwear, and showed Arturo Martinez denying that he was in the store that morning and saying that he was sleeping and that he “didn’t murder somebody.”
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