QUEENS — A Jamaica man stabbed his young daughters to death because he didn't have car seats to take them on the lam with him after killing their churchgoing mother, prosecutors said Friday.
When asked by detectives why he killed his children, he said, "I was going to take them with me, but I didn't have car seats," prosecutor Michelle Kaszuba said during Miguel Mejia-Ramos' arraignment Friday in Queens criminal court on a slew of charges, including first-degree murder and weapon possession.
Handcuffed and wearing jeans and a black T-shirt beneath a black hooded sleeveless jacket, Mejia-Ramos, silently stared at the floor in the courtroom, filled with family members and reporters.
"Miguel was like a member of our family. We trusted him," Evelinda Alvardo, Garcia's aunt, said in Spanish before the hearing. She then looked at a photo of Garcia that she had stored in her cellphone and burst into tears.
Mejia-Ramos, 28, first fatally stabbed his wife Deisy Garcia, 21, in a fit of jealous rage before attacking their two daughters Yoselin Mejia, 1, and Daniela Mejia, 2, on Jan. 19 at their Sutphin Boulevard home, according to Queens DA Richard Brown's office.
Sources said their bodies lay undiscovered for 20 hours until relatives found them, but Mejia-Ramos was long gone by then.
He was finally arrested by U.S. Marshals driving through a small Texas town Monday night, officials said.
Mejia-Ramos initially tried to convince detectives that his wife had killed the children and that's why he killed her, but he quickly switched stories, prosecutors said.
He allegedly told detectives he and his wife were in the process of getting separated and that he was sleeping in another room in the apartment.
Mejia-Ramos, a construction worker, also said that last Saturday, he finished work at 6:30 p.m., went to his friend, had a couple of beers and returned home around 11 p.m., where his his wife was sleeping with their children, according to prosecutors
He then checked her phone, text messages and her Facebook page and saw photos of his wife with another man, according to the DA's office. He said he "just snapped," Kaszuba said during the hearing.
After stabbing his wife, he hugged and kissed his daughters and asked them for forgiveness before stabbing them, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. In the attack, he allegedly used four knives.
He then tried to commit suicide by stabbing himself in the chest, but he said "he couldn't," Kaszuba said.
Mejia-Ramos took about $240 from Garcia's bag and then fled.
Brown, who said he believed Mejia-Ramos was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, had been trying to flee the U.S. and return to his home country.
But investigators tracked his cell phone and arrested him about 1,700 miles away from his Queens home in Schulenburg, Texas on Monday, police said.
Friends and family said Garcia feared her husband but was afraid to go to authorities because she was in the country illegally.
Friday's court appearance came a day after the mother and daughters' funeral services Thursday night in which mourners crammed into the family's church, Iglesia Naciones Unidas en Cristo in Jamaica. The bodies will be later flown to Guatemala for burial.
Brown said Friday that "there will be no plea bargaining in this case whatsoever."
“I was at the crime scene last Sunday night and as I said at that time, ‘I have seen a lot in my 23 years as District Attorney but there is nothing more disturbing than seeing children – in this case mere babies – as victims of violence,'” he said.
The suspect's lawyer, Michael Anastasiou, asked for medical attention and protective custody for his client. He also asked to place Mejia-Ramos on suicide watch.
Mejia-Ramos, who, if convicted, faces life in prison without the possibility of parole, was ordered held without bail and to return to court on Feb. 14.