Brooklyn, NY – A man who beat his wife to death, left her body to decompose in their home for a week, and then chopped her remains into pieces with a saw, was sentenced to just 10 years in prison on Wednesday.
The body of Diana Rodriguez-Martin, 43, was never found.
"He's gotten away with murder," Valerie Reyes-Jimenez, the dead woman’s sister, told the New York Daily News. “I can't even cut up a whole chicken without thinking of Diana and hearing the bones crunch.”
The woman’s family members reported her disappearance in February of 2017, after they became concerned when no one was able to reach her.
Rodriguez-Martin’s husband, 43-year-old Phillip Martin, told her relatives that she had moved out of their apartment the month prior, and that she had taken their dog.
But when confronted by police on Feb. 17, 2017, Martin ultimately confessed that he had murdered his wife sometime around his birthday, which occurred on Jan. 14, 2017, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported.
He said that he then hacked her body into pieces, stuffed them into garbage bags, and moved them out of the apartment with a laundry cart.
Martin said he tossed the bags into trash cans on the street.
"She didn't deserve this. No one does,” Reyes-Jimenez said. “What he did to her is disgusting. We always thought he was a piece of s---.”
Prosecutors initially charged Martin with second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, and concealment of a corpse, but the absence of the victim’s body caused concern about the likelihood of a conviction, the New York Post reported.
“There isn’t sufficient evidence,” Rodriguez-Martin’s aunt, Alba Reyes, told the New York Daily News. “We have to go by the evidence and the law.”
Martin pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter on Dec. 20.
"We could not sustain a murder conviction in this case without the victim’s body, which was never recovered,” a Brooklyn District Attorney spokeswoman told the New York Daily News in December. “We hope the victim’s family finds some measure of comfort knowing this defendant will spend many years in state prison.”
Investigators said that the couple, who had been married for 11 years, had a history of domestic violence, prompting police to respond to their home on at least eight occasions.
“She lived with a monster who made her life a living hell,” the victim’s relative, Kathy O’Connor said during Martin’s sentencing hearing, according to the New York Daily News.
“I can never pass a garbage bag without wondering if Diana's body or someone else's is in there,” Reyes told the court, according to the New York Post. “You admitted to chopping up her body and throwing her away, but we will never really know if that’s what you did.”
Members of Rodriguez-Martin’s family said that they would have preferred a longer sentence for the man they called, “the coward,” the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported.
“Unfortunately Phillip, you made sure there was nothing left to be found,” Reyes said.
According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Martin apologized to his wife’s family just before Judge Miriam Cyrulnik handed down the lenient sentence.
“I’d give anything to take it all back,” he said. “This will haunt me till the day I die. I’m sorry.”
Martin could have faced up to 25 years in prison, but was only sentenced to 10.
“Mr. Martin, I hear the remorse in your voice, but when any of her family closes their eyes at night they'll think of her. I hope every day of your sentence, when you close your eyes you think of her,” the judge told him, according to the New York Daily News.
“It feels to me that the defendant has more rights than the [deceased],” Rodriguez-Martin’s cousin told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle after Martin’s sentence was imposed. “I can’t begin to imagine the betrayal she must have felt when she knew she was dying.”