Isabel Martinez, Accused Child Killer, Smiles & Bows in Court

Isabel Martinez

The court appearance comes as Martinez's 9-year-old daughter Diana, the lone survivor of the alleged stabbing rampage, remains hospitalized - and is expected to be so for the next few weeks.

Martinez was all smiles during her Friday court appearance, often grinning directly into cameras. She also told the judge she didn't need an attorney.

During the proceedings, the judge charged her with six felony counts of aggravated assault and 10 counts of felony murder. Police officers and firefighters responded and found Martin Romero and four children deceased, plus the injured Diana Romero, all suffering from apparent stab wounds.

Police said Martinez had been cooperative with investigators, though they have not yet revealed a possible motive in the deadly attack. "She was good, went to our church last weekend, she was there with us".

Gwinnett County police said in a statement: "What prompts a person to take the life of such innocent children and her spouse is something we may never understand".

U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox said in an email Friday that Maria Isabel Garduno-Martinez, whom local law enforcement identified as Isabel Martinez, is from Mexico and entered the U.S. illegally.

Before the hearing, Martinez sat with other inmates and struck poses for news cameras - smiling, giving a double thumbs up, putting her hands in a prayer position and spreading her arms out wide.

Immigration authorities have placed a hold on Martinez.

"She seemed so normal, like a regular mother", said neighbor Letty Perez, WSB-TV reports.

Police had said the Romero and Martinez family lived in a quiet neighborhood, but that changed after a 911 call from inside the mobile home at 4:47 a.m. Thursday.

Police said a fifth child, a girl, survived with serious injuries.

The judge denied bond for Martinez, who is accused of multiple counts of malice murder. Another child was hospitalized and is now in serious but stable condition.

Thorpe advised Martinez to hire a lawyer or to allow one to be appointed for her.

Some neighbors in the small, largely Hispanic neighborhood in Loganville, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Atlanta, said the Spanish-speaking family had moved to the community recently.

The 33-year-old mother wagged her finger and shook her head as the judge reviewed the charges.

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