CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — New information from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is revealing how a man accused of dismembering his 77-year-old neighbor initially came to the U.S.
DHS told 11Alive's Elwyn Lopez that Christian Ponce Martinez was encountered by United States Border Patrol agents in March 2015 near San Ysidro, California, adding that he came to the U.S. illegally, seeking asylum.
DHS adding that he was served with an expedited removal order. He was seen before a judge and released on an immigration bond that same month.
Almost four years later, Martinez is behind bars at Clayton County jail facing murder charges related to the beheading and dismemberment of his neighbor, 77 year-old Robert Page.
Page's wife reported him missing last November. He was found dead the next day. A trail of blood led police from Page's home to the backyard of the home next door where Martinez was renting a room from his friend. Police said he had been living there for about three months.
Major Craig Hammer with Clayton County police said investigators had not established a motive, but it appears the two men had some sort of argument at Page's home before his death. Police said the argument was captured on home surveillance video.
Hammer said Martinez was not cooperating with police and might face additional charges due to incidents that might have occurred while he was in police custody.
Months later, the case was brought back into the forefront after President Trump made reference to it during his Oval Office address to the nation on what he's dubbed a "border crisis." Page's family said they weren't notified before his death was mentioned in the President's address.
"Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders," President Trump said. "In Georgia, an illegal alien was recently charged with murder for killing, beheading and dismembering his neighbor."
Trump's mention of the murder was part of an ongoing attempt to push for border wall funding in the 2019 budget - a demand that has led to a standoff with House Democrats.