JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- A Jacksonville mother is still waiting to bring all of her daughter home. It's been 18 years since the gruesome murder of her daughter, Colleen Slemmer, but even with all that time, May Martinez still does not have closure.
Slemmer was tortured, beaten, and stabbed to death in Knoxville, Tennessee where she had gone to join the Job Corp. Her killer, Christa Pike, is now fighting her death sentence, again.
Action News is uncovering new developments in the delays in justice for Slemmer's family.
Pike kept a piece of Colleen's skull as a trophy and her new appeal, is keeping that fragment as evidence and also keeping Martinez from burying her child.
It's a cruel technicality that Martinez says leaves her still tormented by her daughter's killer "I should have her in a box...not keep opening a box, put pieces in. That's ridiculous."
She's has had to open this urn, rarely ever out of her sight, over and over to do the unimaginable: place another piece of Colleen's cremated remains inside. "It's hard because she'll never be buried. I keep getting body parts and right now, I'm fighting to get her buried."
The piece still missing, is a fragment of Colleen's skull. Pike took it as a trophy the night she and two others killed Colleen, motivated by a love triangle. It was a murder marked by torture with dozens of stab wounds, her throat slashed, a pentagram carved into her chest, her head bashed in. Her skull fragment is still considered evidence today because Pike's attorney's have filed a new federal appeal to help her avoid the death penalty.
It's a new legal hurdle after Pike agreed to give up the fight when her state appeals were exhausted.
Gardner, " Do you think you'll ever see Christa Pike executed for killing your daughter?"
Martinez, " No. No. I think she'll be free."
Gardner, " Why do you think that?"
Martinez " 'Cause it's the system. she's beat the system. the system lets you down... Colleen was a person. she was a human being. she didn't deserve this. she didn't deserve to be like that."
Pike was the youngest woman ever sentenced to death in U.S. history; she was just 20 at that time. Today, out of 81 inmates on death row in Tennessee, she is the only woman. The only other woman ever sentenced to death in Tennessee was recently paroled.
That fact just gives more cause to May's deep fear: no one will pay the ultimate price for killing colleen. A child she fears may never fully come home. "I have no place to go to see her, or talk to her. She's just here, or if I die or there's a fire, what happens? Garbage. I don't want that."
In the federal appeal we obtained, Pike's attorney's argue her constitutional rights were violated at her murder trial. Now, they say killing her by lethal injection would be cruel and unusual punishment. That is a claim Martinez finds unbearable. She believes Pike would kill again if ever released. Since Colleen's death, Pike has been convicted again of attempted murder of another female inmate and then last year, her escape attempt, complete with copied death row prison keys, was foiled just in time.