Investigation Discovery’s ‘Diabolical: Family or Foe’ delves into the brutal murder of Vicki Ghonim in 1992. The case went cold for several years due to a lack of leads and evidence, but it was then reopened in 2006, thanks to modern DNA technology. Investigators were directly led to the shooter, Leon Martinez, who told them he had been hired by Vicki’s husband, Morrad, to kill her. We were interested to know what happened to both the parties in the plot, and here’s what we found.
Who Are Morrad Ghonim and Leon Martinez?
Morrad Ghonim met Vicki when she was a student at John Glenn High School. The two married after Vicki found out she was pregnant. In 1992, the couple had been married for a little over a year and lived in Vicki’s family home with their son, Michael, and Vicki’s other family members. In July, while visiting a nearby park, Vicki was shot to death. The case could not be untangled during the initial stages of the investigation and was labeled cold.
In 2006, the investigators received a grant authorizing forensic testing, and they ordered a DNA test on clothes found at the crime scene. The results led the officers directly to the shooter, Leon Martinez, who was serving time for other charges. Leon Martinez tried to divert the blame to a dead friend, but he gave in with subsequent questioning and prodding by the detectives. He admitted to the killing and said he had been hired by Vicki’s husband, Morrad Ghonim, to shoot her.
In 2010, Ghonim was arrested, and a video-recording of his interrogation showed him describing the events leading up to the shooting. The officers noted several inconsistencies in the story, but they had to let Ghonim go due to lack of evidence. Martinez was charged with capital murder. He then called his wife and told her to dissuade Selena Woody from testifying against him. Selena was his former girlfriend to whom he had made a confession.
Meanwhile, Morrad had started a company in Antigua, Ayoushe Beauty Supplies, which had been running successfully. In 2015, Morrad was extradited from Antigua, where he had been living with his third wife, to Miami. The arrest warrant for Morrad came after some new witnesses surfaced, which pushed the case over the top, according to authorities.
Where Are Morrad Ghonim and Leon Martinez Now?
In February 2015, Leon Martinez was convicted of Vicki Ghonim’s murder. The jury found him guilty of committing first-degree murder by lying in wait and also for financial gain. In a separate trial, he was convicted for influencing Selena Woody, his former girlfriend, from testifying against him. Martinez entered a post-conviction plea bargain, which required him to testify against Morrad Ghonim, allowing Martinez’s sentence to be lowered from LWOP to 28 years to life in prison (25 years for the first-degree murder and three consecutive years for dissuading a witness).
During Ghonim’s trial in 2016, Martinez testified by describing the exact events of the day of the shooting. He said that Vicki had pleaded with Martinez not to harm the child. Martinez also said that Ghonim had told him Ghonim and his wife were facing marital troubles and that he wanted his wife dead. Martinez was asked to go to the park and stage the scene like a botched robbery. After the deed was done, Martinez said Ghonim reached over his wife’s slumped body to pay Martinez the remaining amount of the predetermined fees.
Other testimonies included the one given by Ghonim’s second wife, who said Ghonim had threatened to harm her if she decided to leave. The former wife told the jury Ghonim had said, “If you try to get a divorce from me, I’ll do to you what I did to the other. It may cost me more than $500 now, but it’ll be worth it.” Deanna Woody‘s testimony suggested that Martinez and Morrad had met quite a few times before the shooting. Ghonim maintained that he was not guilty and that he loved his wife. He even pointed fingers at a detective, alleging him to have manipulated Vicki’s family against him.
Ghonim was found guilty on all charges, including one count of first-degree murder along with special circumstances of lying in wait and murder for financial gain in February 2016. He was thereafter sentenced to life in prison without parole. Leon Martinez is reportedly serving his sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, California, and will be eligible for parole in February 2028. Prison records indicate that Morrad Ghonim remains incarcerated at Centinela State Prison in Imperial County, California.
Read More: How Did Vicki Ghonim Die?