Friday, December 18, 2009

Baby "allegedly" slain by father showed earlier signs of abuse (Gilbert, Arizona)

Dad RICKY MARTINEZ has been charged with first-degree felony murder in the beating death of his 2-month-old daughter. Now authorities are saying there is evidence of earlier abuse as well. Unfortunately, Mama seems to be the Queen of Denial here.

Slain Gilbert baby showed signs of earlier abuse
by Nathan Gonzalez - Dec. 18, 2009 09:05 AM
The Arizona Republic

The autopsy on a 2-month-old Gilbert girl who died as a result of a suspected beating by her father showed the victim had earlier injuries.

Lilliana Martinez had five healing rib fractures on the left side along the spine, and two on each side of the upper chest, according to a report released this week by Gilbert police.

Almost from the beginning, Gilbert police, firefighters and doctors suspected something more was involved in the baby's death.

From the point her parents, Ricky Martinez, 20, and Aurora Ascencio, 19, sought help at 1:11 p.m. Nov. 8 at Fire Station #7, to when their infant girl died in the hospital four days later, authorities were focused on the girl's father.

Ricky Martinez told investigators Lilliana fell onto a carpeted floor after rolling off an 18-inch-tall bed on the second story of his parent's home at 875 W. Laurel Ave., Gilbert

However, the recently released 58-page police report states the young girl suffered skull fractures from as many as four blows to the head, and had nine healing rib fractures.

Last month, a Maricopa County grand jury indicted Ricky Martinez on charges of first-degree felony murder and a dangerous crime against children, and one count of child abuse, a class 2 felony and dangerous crime against children.

The report details investigators' interviews with Martinez and Ascencio, in which the engaged couple said they were watching the Arizona Cardinals football game on TV with their 18-month-old son, Martinez's 13-year-old sister and Lilliana in her car seat on the couch.

Martinez picked up the infant when she began to cry, the report states.

"For me when babies cry, I feel like I need to hurry up, to get it done because I don't like my son or daughter crying at all," Martinez told an investigator. "It bothers me emotionally, I feel for them. I'm really close to my son and daughter."

Martinez said he was in a hurry to change Lilliana's diaper, when he took her upstairs and laid her near the edge of the bed. He removed the soiled diaper, wiped her down and turned around to get a fresh diaper.

Before he could turn back, Martinez said Lilliana fall to the ground and heard a "crack."

"Right away you just see the bulge . . . but you see the bruises and I freaked out," Martinez said, noting a bump on his young daughter's head.

Ascencio told police she heard the fall from downstairs and thought their son had gotten into something, but he was found playing with shoes near the front door.

Suddenly, Martinez screamed for Ascencio to come upstairs because the child had fallen.

"She said Ricky looked scared and was yelling that they needed to take Lilliana to the hospital," Ascencio told police.

The mother put a fresh diaper on the child, put her in her car seat and they hurriedly left the home. Once inside the car, Martinez's mother told them to drive to the nearest fire station, about one mile away.

However, no one answered the door at the station at 215 N. Cooper Road. Martinez called 911.

"My daughter fell off the bed and her head is really (expletive) up," Martinez said. "Her eyes are kind of in back of her head. She's not alert at all, but she's breathing and making some noises."

More than four minutes passed before police and paramedics arrived on the scene.

Medical personnel were working on the infant when a fire captain pulled an officer aside.

"The fire captain stated, 'You need to get your people here for this' and expressed he felt the situation was very serious and the child's injury was not consistent, in his opinion, with the fall that was being described," the police report state.

When confronted with the fire captain's accusation of child abuse, Ascencio said "They aren't doctors!" and that they "can't come to that conclusion!"

Attending physicians at Maricopa County Medical center said the child's injuries were life-threatening as a result of subdural and subarachnoid hematomas from left and right frontal skull fractures.

Lilliana was removed from life support and pronounced dead at 6:40 a.m. Nov. 12.

An autopsy revealed multiple skull fractures "from multiple impacts, possibly as many as four," the report states.

Gilbert police arrested Martinez on Nov. 13 as he exited a Wells Fargo bank with Ascencio. Martinez again denied abusing his daughter when questioned further by police.

Ascencio continued to defend her fiancé.

"She described Ricky as being a very loving toward his kids," the report states. "She did not believe that he could intentionally hurt the kids."