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Undocumented Immigrant, Accused of Killing Her Four Children, Smiles and Gives Thumbs Up to Camera in Court

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Isabel Martinez, who is accused of stabbing her husband and four children to death, had a bizarre court appearance Friday morning. At first, she can be seen kneeling and bowing at the cameras. A guard put an end to that, and she returned to her seat. This didn’t stop her from giving the thumbs up, however.

Gwinnett County prosecutors say she massacred her family at their Loganville, Georgia home on Thursday. The victims: husband Martin Romero, 33, and their four children Isabela Martinez, 10, Dacota Romero, 7, Dillan Romero, 4, and Axel Romero, 2. A fifth child, 9, survived.

Martinez plans on defending herself in court.

Neighbors said that before the murders, she seemed depressed due to her father’s recent death. Police haven’t suggested a motive yet, however.

“What prompts a person to take the life of such innocent children and her spouse is something we may never understand,” officials said in the statement obtained by PEOPLE. “This is a horrendous crime not only for the victims but for the extended family, neighborhood and community.”

Police said Monday that Martinez faces five counts of murder, five counts of malice murder, and six counts of aggravated assault. She is being held for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. No bond was granted.

An ICE spokesman confirmed to LawNewz that Martinez is undocumented. Southern Region Communications Director Bryan D. Cox said she is a Mexican national who illegally entered the United States.

“This is her first encounter with ICE so we cannot estimate how long she’s been in the country,” he said in an email. “She crossed the border at an unknown time/location.”

Update – July 7, 12:02 p.m.: Added information about Martinez’s immigration status.

[Screengrab via WSB-TV]

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