Suspect in murder admits 'doing some bad things'

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 18, 2007 - 2:06 AM

Coty Martinez, 28, faces charges of helping Jeremy Brooks avoid arrest. He was caught Thursday in a North Dakota wheat field.

Hours after her arrest -- and as her accomplice was dodging searchers in North Dakota farm fields -- a jailed Coty Martinez told Minnesota investigators that she had traveled with Jeremy Brooks since they left their native Louisiana, where they face attempted-murder charges.

She also "admitted doing some bad things," court charges said.

Martinez, 28, appeared Friday in Wright County District Court in Buffalo, Minn., on charges of helping Brooks avoid arrest in the death of a rural Montrose woman two weeks ago.

Brooks, who was nabbed Thursday morning in a wheat field near Drake, N.D., waived his extradition rights and was sent back Friday to face murder charges in Wright County, said a jail official in Rugby, N.D.

The couple also is suspected of two murders in Louisville, Ky., and was charged in Slidell, La., with an attempted murder and armed robbery June 2.

Moreover, they are suspects in several burglaries and arsons in North Dakota and in Wright County, where they are expected to be tried first.

The FBI is working with authorities in Wright County and elsewhere to trace the pair's suspected interstate crime spree since they fled Louisiana in June. The FBI will notify police in jurisdictions where they traveled in case the two are connected to other unsolved crimes, said Paul McCabe, an FBI special agent in Minneapolis.

"We are tracking everywhere they have been since they've been on the run," McCabe said. He wouldn't say whether the pair is suspected of other crimes, but added: "It is still very much a developing case."

Wright County Sheriff Gary Miller said his officers had put out a nationwide alert on Ruth Ouverson's slaying in Wright County. Miller and other authorities have yet to determine why Brooks and Martinez traveled to Minnesota.

Without recent advancements in surveillance technology, Miller said, the Louisiana couple could still be at large. He noted that Internet news accounts showing store surveillance videos of the suspects alerted both citizens and police to their appearances, alleged violent acts and possible whereabouts. Brooks' fingerprint found in a car stolen from Ouverson was identified through a national crime data base.

Brooks, 27, and Martinez were arrested after a Drake, N.D., family, who gave Martinez a meal, later saw her picture on a news website and called their county sheriff. A deputy found her Tuesday evening. That helped focus the manhunt that located Brooks on Thursday morning.

"It is amazing how connected people are through the Internet," Miller said. "The public and police get information so much quicker. Even five years ago, two people who dropped from the sky and had no connections to a community and a three-day lead, would still be blowing in the wind. ... Thank God for forensics and surveillance videos because those are tough cases to put together."

Surveillance images from Kentucky show a man who strongly resembles Brooks and the man who was caught by surveillance cameras at Minnesota stores, police said.

On Monday, a Kentucky grand jury will be asked to consider murder charges against Brooks and Martinez in two deaths, said Louisville police spokesman Phil Russell.

One case involves Hugh O'Dea, 69, whose car was stolen and who disappeared about a week before Brooks and Martinez likely arrived in Minnesota. Police found O'Dea beaten to death in a wooded area of Louisville on Aug. 4, Russell said.

Two days later, police found the badly decomposing body of another man in a Louisville house. The coroner hasn't yet identified the man, who police think was asphyxiated in his home, Russell said.

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658

UNSUSPECTING SUSPECT

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