Clevland Plain Dearler

Husband bails out wife jailed in plot to kill him

Wednesday, December 29, 1999
By JOHN CANIGLIA
PLAIN DEALER REPORTER

NORTH RIDGEVILLE - After watching a videotape of his wife plotting his death for life insurance money, Ruben Martinez begged police not to charge her.

Martinez, 50, said he would get a divorce, but he did not want his wife, Tammy, to be accused of hiring a man to shoot him, police said.

He even helped his wife post $50,000 bond Monday to get her out of the Lorain County Jail, where she spent Christmas.

Police said Tammy Martinez met Dec. 23 earlier with an undercover detective she thought was a killer. She told the officer that she wanted her husband dead within a week, police said.

Her husband's support for her stunned police, especially after he watched her say on the videotape: "I don't care if you shoot him. Like I said, the quicker, the better. There's no way in God's green earth that I would back out of this."

Police charged Tammy Martinez, 41, a part-time switchboard operator at St. John West Shore Hospital, with complicity to commit aggravated murder. She is to appear tomorrow in Elyria Municipal Court. St. John West Shore Hospital officials said they have suspended her without pay.

The couple have been married 18 years and live on Cornell Blvd.

Police Capt. Richard Thomas said Tammy Martinez devised the plan because she thought it was cheaper than getting a divorce from a man she had grown to hate.

Thomas said Martinez had grown angry with her husband partly because she thought he always sided with her stepdaughter in arguments. She also wanted to receive her husband's life insurance payout of $100,000, Thomas said.

Neither Tammy Martinez nor her attorney, Robert A. Nagy, could be reached for comment yesterday. No one answered the door at the Martinez home, where a Christmas tree sat dark in a window.

A message left on the couple's answering machine was not returned. Attempts to reach Ruben Martinez's oldest daughter, Claribel, who lives in Cleveland, also were unsuccessful.

The undercover police officer met with Tammy Martinez at the Travelodge Motel in North Ridgeville on Dec. 23 after one of her co-workers at St. John West Shore told police about her plans, Thomas said.

The co-worker, whom police would not identify, at first thought Martinez was joking. But after Martinez called him at home several times requesting his help or a gun, the co-worker went to police, Thomas said.

At the hotel, the co-worker introduced the undercover officer to Martinez as a contract killer and then left.

"The less I know about this, the better," the man said on the videotape.

With ESPN Sports Center playing on the television and an empty pizza box on the bed, Tammy Martinez told the officer that she wanted her husband shot outside her home as he left for his job at LTV Steel at 5:30 a.m. Dec. 27, the videotape shows.

Martinez promised to pay the man $5,000.

She also ordered him to make it look like a robbery - to steal her husband's wallet but send it back to her, according to the videotape. "I want the credit cards," she said.

The police officer told Martinez that even if the crime looked like a robbery, she would be questioned. Asked what she would say if she were the prime suspect, Martinez said: "I'll just say, "I don't know a . . . thing.' Just make it look like a robbery."

After nearly 20 minutes with the officer, Martinez left the motel room, and police arrested her moments later. Thomas, the police captain, said Martinez initially denied that she would go through with the plan, saying that she intended to call the officer back later. But she never took the man's phone number, Thomas said.

He said Martinez talked with several people about trying to kill her husband, including a relative who agreed to do the job but never carried out the plan. Thomas said the relative agreed to cooperate with police and was not charged.

In one tape made by an informant, Tammy Martinez praised herself and said, "I'm a cold, calculating" person.

Thomas said he was surprised that Ruben Martinez did not want his wife charged. "After he saw the video, I thought he would be physically ill," he said.

E-mail: jcaniglia@plaind.com Phone: 1-800-767-2821

©1999 THE PLAIN DEALER.