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Life Imprisonment to the Killer of a 16-year-old Kearny Girl

Cruz Martinez, a 44-year-old man received life imprisonment for killing the 16-year-old Alishia Colon.

The Incident

She was shot in her head on Jan 17, 2013, at her house on Belgrove Drive. A fight had started near her house involving the Victim’s relatives and the perpetrator. The gang members of Latin Kings and the Colon family members were dealing with an ongoing dispute.

It was revealed that Cruz killed her as revenge from her family over the ongoing dispute. She was killed by a gunshot in her head while watching television with her 7-year-old brother in her bedroom. The two were home alone when Cruz entered their apartment forcefully and killed her. Her brother was the first-hand witness to the incident but was not physically harmed during the gunfire.

After two days of the murder, he identified the suspect through a photo while breaking down as reported by Hudson County Prosecutor Sal Rozzi. According to her statement to The Observer, it was the most dramatic killing she had ever witnessed in her 20 years of experience.

The Arrest

Martinez was arrested on Jan 19, 2023, at his home in Pennsylvania and later was charged with murder, and unlawful possession of weapons, along with other three suspects, Kyeeth L. Smith, Lamar D. Farrar and Eric L. Shelton by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. The team was guided by the Kearny Police Department under Chief John Dowie.

The three pleaded guilty for possessing weapons while the gunman waited for trial for the murder. The trial was decided by a Hudson County Jury of nine men and three women who declared Cruz guilty of the cold murder.

The investigators concluded the murder to be an ongoing dispute between the victim’s family and the gang members and her killing to be the “tragic consequence” of the feud.  Alishia Colon’s brother who now had turned 9 was the main driving force of the investigation after his testimony for the trial. Cruz was sentenced to life imprisonment in July 2015 by Hudson County Superior Judge Martha Royster.

The victim’s mother mentioned him as “a cold-blooded killer,” for killing her innocent daughter.

Along with the murder, Cruz had a prolonged history of criminal record which goes back to 1988. This included eight offences due to which he was sentenced to 15 years in state prison in the past. The perpetrator felt remorse for the family for killing the girl.

The detectives are searching for clues regarding the dispute and the murder of Alishia Colon but have not found any link so far.

People’s Response

The residents nearby paid their tribute to the victim by placing a shrine in front of her home along with TV news vans lining the street with lights depicting teddies and balloons. The people grieved over the loss with candles and personal notes from the family according to The Observer.

The Kearny Town Council also expressed their grief and sympathy towards her family and friends assuring them of safety from such crimes in future.

Some felt relief after the perpetrator was sentenced to life imprisonment as just was provided to the victim. One of the mothers of the victim’s high school friend said Alishia was happy as her death was now justified.

The determination of the police to provide the victim with justice was well appreciated. Chief John Dowie called the investigation a “good cooperative investigation” between his detectives and those of HCPO.

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