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Cypress man who killed woman in Habitat for Humanity home she helped build sentenced to life in prison

A jury sentenced a Cypress man to life in prison and fined him $10,000 after convicting him of murder for stabbing a mother of four, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Wednesday.

Mauricio Navarrete-Torres, 23, was sentenced Tuesday for fatally stabbing 37-year-old Christine Martinez inside her home in the 19900 blocks of Great Elms Drive in northwest Harris County on February 3, 2017. The house was built by Habitat for Humanity, and Martinez had helped construct it with her family.

Navarrete-Torres broke into the house and knew where valuables were because he had been in there as a friend and coworker of Martinez’s children, court records show.

“Ms. Martinez was a loving and caring mother who should have been safe in her own home,” Ogg said. “Burglaries and home invasions can easily turn fatal and those who violate the safety and privacy of our homes, like in this case, have to be held accountable.”

Harris County Sheriff’s Office detectives identified Navarrete-Torres as the prime suspect in the case, because of fingerprint identification and because he knew where the valuable items were in Martinez’s son’s room.

Martinez’s 20-year-old son told investigators he left the family’s home around midnight that night to pick up his younger brother at work. When they returned home, the brothers found that someone had forced their way inside and stabbed their mother.

Assistant District Attorney Janna Oswald, who prosecuted the case with ADA Nick Toups, said a life sentence was the right result.

“He stabbed her 37 times,” Oswald said. “And we argued that he has not shown any real remorse or accountability for his actions. We are pleased with the jury’s decision and that the Martinez children have justice for their mother.”