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20 years after her murder, Justyce Martin won't let her mother's memory fade

Posted at 6:14 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 19:18:13-05

CINCINNATI — Today is the 20th anniversary of the day a woman was shot and stabbed to death in Woodlawn.

Cassandra Betts’ daughter and family plan to honor her on Monday with a vigil where the tragedy occurred.

Justyce Martin was just seven years old, sitting in the backseat of her mother’s car in the parking lot at the corner of Springfield Pike and Marion Road 20 years ago.

It was a night she will never forget -- the night she watched her mother’s life end.

“The last time I seen her was in a black bag that night and it was really hard,” Martin said.

Seven-year-old Justyce Martin thought it was all a bad dream in the early hours of Dec, 21, 2000.

She had fallen asleep in the backseat of her mother’s car after watching Tony Ringer -- her mothers boyfriend at the time -- stab and shoot Betts.

“From the autopsy we found out that he stabbed her first then shot her,” Martin said. “He didn’t want her to have the baby and he was supposed to be getting married to someone in Dayton the next day.”

Martin had to climb over her mother’s dead body to get help. She said she remembers seeing Ringer at the police station later that day.

“He was walking in the police station with my family members and hugged my grandmother and said ‘they will find the person that did this.’”

Ringer would later take a plea deal and be sentenced to 21 years in prison for the death of Betts and her unborn son. He’s set to be released in 2022.

“I don’t like that someone that took two people’s life is able to walk free on this earth,” Martin said. “He’s able to still live his life, that is not right to me.”

Martin has her own family now but she says she will never let the memory of her mother fade.

Martin is hosting a vigil Monday night with Betts’ best friend Khrys Styles to honor her legacy and encourage those facing domestic violence to reach out for help.

“Be honest, open up, it's ok,” Styles said. “Whatever happened to you is not your fault. You are not your abuse, don’t let it define you.”

The vigil will be held at Springfield Pike and Marion Road Monday at 6:30 p.m.

Martin wants people to bring candles and wear yellow -- her mother’s favorite color. People are also encouraged to wear purple, the color of domestic violence awareness.