Today’s news:

Mother slain in Briarwood

Maureen Diaz, 37, was allegedly murdered Jan. 4 by her common-law husband during a dispute inside the room at the Jets Motor Inn at 139-06 Queens Blvd., said Officer Chris Cottingham, a police spokesman.

The couple's 10-month-old son was in the room when his mother's throat was slashed with a broken beer bottle, he said. Diaz, who lived at 811 Hicks St., was declared dead at the scene at 2:45 a.m., the officer said.

Miguel Vendrell, 44, of 115 Atkins Ave., was arrested at the motel and charged with the second-degree murder of his wife, said Mary de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney's office.

He was arraigned Saturday and was being held without bail. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison, de Bourbon said.

Vendrell allegedly hit his wife in the head with the bottle during a dispute and then used the jagged edge of the broken bottle to slash her throat, making Diaz the first homicide in the borough for 2001, Cottingham said.

"She was found on the floor laying face up," de Bourbon said. "She had a wound to the head, her throat was slashed and a bottle was found nearby."

Members of the Jets Motor Inn management refused to comment on what happened. It was not known who had asked the police to go to the motel.

There were 112 murders in Queens in 2000, down from 121 in 1999. The borough's murder rate showed a drop of 7.4 percent, outpacing the overall rate in the city, where murder rose 0.5 percent.

Vendrell and Diaz had had a rocky on-and-off relationship for the past 17 years, published reports said. The two, parents of nine children, had not been living together for some time, published reports said.

According to reports, the two had rented the $95-a-night room to watch television and drink beer.

The baby was brought to Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica were he was examined and released to Administration for Children's Service, said Brenda Ramsey, a spokeswoman for the hospital.

Jack Deacy, a spokesman for the Administration for Children's Service, said eight of the couple's children had been in his department's care in foster homes in Queens and Long Island since 1997.

He said the agency picked up the 10-month-old boy at the precinct and has placed him in foster care with his sister in Queens.

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