A Bronx couple blamed each for last month’s brutal murder and dismemberment of a woman in their home — but a grand jury on Tuesday pinned the murder on just the boyfriend.
Daquan Wheeler, 31, and Ciara Martinez, 30, pointed fingers at each other for the the Aug. 22 murder of Lisa Marie Velasquez in a series of statements to police.
But they both agreed on one thing — they stopped to get a bite to eat as they dumped the woman’s body parts in a pair of Bronx parks, according to court papers.
Wheeler, who was indicted Tuesday on murder and other charges, was accused of beating Velasquez, 24, to death with a hammer, then hacking her body to pieces to cover up the crime.
Prosecutors had sought to also charge Martinez with the killing, but the grand jury didn’t indict her on murder or manslaughter. She faces charges including criminal facilitation, hindering prosecution and concealment of a human corpse.
“I feel horrible about it. God will take care of her one way or another. She’ll get hers. She should have gotten the same thing as him,” Velasquez’s aunt, Jacqueline Perez told the Daily News Tuesday night. “I’m also disgusted that they both decided to plead not guilty. I was in court. I couldn’t believe it…. He looked up at us, and he had a little smirk on his face.”
When asked about the revelation the couple got food as they got rid of Velasquez’s body, she added, “It was like they did nothing. Like her life meant nothing to them.”
Velasquez and Martinez were best friends, the doomed woman’s family said.
The victim saw her own mother knifed to death 12 years earlier, and when she learned Wheeler was trying to take Martinez’s child away from her, Velasquez rushed to the couple’s Longfellow Ave. apartment.
Wheeler left, then returned later that night and crushed her head with a hammer, prosecutors said.
“In the ultimate degradation of a human being, her remains were put in garbage bags and discarded in two public parks,” Bronx DA Darcel Clark said.
In a series of statements to detectives, Martinez and Wheeler first lied and said they hadn’t seen Velasquez since she disappeared, then turned on each other.
“I want to do anything I can to help you find Lisa,” Martinez said just after 10 p.m. Aug. 28, just one day before police publicly identified the dismembered remains, according to court documents.
Two hours after the discovery, she changed her tune.
“I’m going to tell you everything that happened,” she said. “Lisa was showering and he bangs on the door. He hits her in the head repeatedly with a hammer. He brings her to the bathtub and tells me that if I don’t help him, he would kill me, my daughter and my son. As for the body parts, you probably didn’t find them all.”
Martinez said Wheeler smashed her phone, refused to take Velasquez to the hospital, and at one point said he wanted to drown her in the tub. “I only touched her twice, once to ask for forgiveness and the other when he was dragging her to the bathroom,” she said.
They went to a hardware store to buy garbage bags and a machete, and cleaned the apartment to cover up the crime, he said.
“We took the clothes and all the stuff that we cleaned and took them to the park in a cart,” she said. After the trip to the store, “We went back to the park and he cut some of the trees and dumped the bags in the park. We bought sandwiches and then gloves. He went to the bathroom. I couldn’t be in there.”
Wheeler, meanwhile, claimed Velasquez was still alive when he left the apartment the day of the murder, and Martinez tricked him into taking her remains to Crotona Park by claiming she needed help moving plastic bins filled with clothes .
“The next day, she said, ‘Let’s take a walk to Barretto (Point) Park.’ She had a cart with a black bag with a knot. I did not look inside the bag,” he said. “We had food, hot dogs and turkey. I went to the bathroom and when I went back, the cart and the bags were gone. She said someone took the cart.”
Wheeler claimed Martinez told him she killed her best friend and cut up the body on her own, and that he never saw a thing.
Wheeler served time in prison for a 2008 attempted murder conviction in the Bronx and a 2015 attempted burglary conviction in Brooklyn. He was released to parole in April 2017. Martinez served three-and-a-half years for a 2010 Queens robbery conviction.
Both were ordered held without bail Tuesday. Their lawyers did not return messages seeking comment.
Perez, Velasquez’s aunt, said the family still hasn’t received her remains.
““People don’t realize how hard it is on her family,” she said. Velasquez’s grandmother, Iris Ginel, still thinks Velasquez will come home one day, she said.
Ginel took custody of Velasquez and her siblings after their mom, Marilyn Ginel, was stabbed, strangled and beaten to death in her apartment 12 years ago.