Columbia student arrested for murder

Columbia student arrested for murder

A Columbia student has been charged with first-degree murder after police say she fatally stabbed her boyfriend May 2 at their Southwest Side home.

Miata Phelan, a junior arts management major, is being held at Cook County Jail. Her bail has been set for $1 million after she allegedly stabbed Larry Martin, 28, the father of her unborn child.

The couple was driving home from the mall with Martin’s 8-year-old son and 25-year-old cousin when Phelan allegedly started arguing with, punching and kicking Martin because he did not purchase anything for her at the mall but purchased things for his son and cousin, according to Cook County court transcripts.

After driving to Martin’s mother’s house to drop off shoes, Phelan allegedly took the car and drove to the couple’s apartment, which was within walking distance. When Martin, his son and his cousin arrived, Phelan locked them outside, according to Cook County court transcripts.

Martin banged on the door until she opened it. When he entered, Phelan allegedly stabbed Martin with a knife.

Hearing a scream of pain, Martin’s cousin entered the apartment while Martin’s son watched, applied pressure to the wound in his left leg and led him to the sidewalk outside, where Martin collapsed before his cousin called 911, according to Cook County court transcripts.

According to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, Martin’s cause of death was a stab wound to his back.

 Students and professors at Columbia were shocked at Phelan’s arrest, and those who knew her said they could not imagine Phelan committing such a violent crime.

“She sat next to me in my communications class and we were assigned to be in groups, so at first we started working on projects together and she was funny,” said Erica Garber, a sophomore journalism major. “She was always easy to work with and never was a problem in class.”

Garber said Phelan did not come to class May 3, the day after she was charged, but Garber assumed that was because Phelan’s birthday was May 1.

Garber said she saw Phelan and Martin at a Gyros restaurant on Harrison Street on April 28, two days before the stabbing. She said Phelan was acting normal and had a casual conversation with both of them.

Patricia Kremer, adjunct faculty member in the Advertising & Public Relations Department and instructor in the course Garber and Phelan took together, declined to comment.

Courtney Jenkins, Martin’s cousin, said she heard about his death when her mother called to inform her. Martin was abusive to Phelan, according to Chicago Tribune reports, but Jenkins said her cousin would not physically harm anyone.

“No one knows with a relationship with those two, but if you knew him, you’d know that he was such a good person,” Jenkins said. “I don’t think he would put his hands on a woman and I think he’s harmless.”

Jenkins said she was surprised when she heard the news, adding that Martin did not tell her he had a pregnant girlfriend.

“I hadn’t even known about her,” Jenkins said. “I knew he was dating someone, but I didn’t know her name. I don’t think he was secretive about her, but because of our age difference, we’re not together often.”

Jenkins said the last time she saw Martin was a few weeks before the incident at a family party, but they did not talk much. She said her last contact with Martin before the stabbing was on Instagram earlier that day.

Mark Perlman, part-time faculty member in the Advertising & Public Relations Department, said he has had Phelan in two of his classes and never perceived her to be angry.

“The shock is that she was always upbeat, pleasant, a good student and the kind of student that would volunteer during class and answer questions,” Perlman said. “She has an outgoing personality that fit public relations so well and she would always say, ‘Hey, Perlman,’ when she saw me and would do that to other professors as well.”