Man now charged with murder of Leticia Martinez-Cosman

SEATTLE — Brett Gitchel, the man arrested in the death of Leticia Martinez-Cosman, has been charged with her murder.

The two were last seen together at a Mariners game before Martinez-Cosman vanished and was found dead weeks later.

Gitchel appeared in court on Monday.

He pleaded not guilty to murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, and gun and theft charges. Prosecutors said in addition to killing Martinez-Cosman, Gitchel also set her car on fire and attacked her disabled adult son.

Since Gitchel’s arrest, his criminal history has come to light. Turns out, he’s faced seven felony charges, nine gross misdemeanors and one misdemeanor. These charges date all the way back to 1994.

Martinez-Cosman’s close friend, Liz Latham, was in the courtroom to show support. It was the first time she had seen Gitchel in person.

“I was just kind of sickened and I was disgusted to hear a plea of not guilty,” said Latham. “It was so nice that she invited him to a game and he went to the game with her and she was never seen again.”

Mary Fan is a professor of criminology at the University of Washington. The former federal prosecutor tells KIRO 7′s Lauren Donovan that Gitchel is innocent until proven guilty. However, the composite of evidence against him is substantial.

“When there is so much evidence against a person for homicide, there’s a lot of pressure to plead guilty,” said Fan.

According to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, Martinez-Cosman died on Apr. 1. Her cause of death was asphyxiation due to strangulation. It was ruled a homicide.

Her remains were found in a wooded area of Renton on Apr. 11.

Latham said a vigil is being planned in her friend’s honor. Anyone who has lost a loved one is welcome to attend.

She said the date and time for Martinez-Cosman’s celebration of life should be released soon.