Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dad "suspected" of killing 6-month-old daughter, 3 other children, two women (Modesto, California)

Dad is identified as MARTIN MARTINEZ.


Modesto massacre suspect charged in earlier death of boy

By Jaxon Van Derbeken and Jenna Lyons Updated 6:04 pm, Thursday, July 23, 2015

Martin Martinez is suspected of killing four children and two women.

The suspect in the weekend slayings of five people in Modesto was hit Thursday with murder and child-abuse charges stemming from the 2014 death of a 2-year-old boy, the son of one of the homicide victims.

Martin Martinez, 30, was transferred from Santa Clara County jail to Stanislaus County, where he was arraigned Thursday afternoon in the death last October of Christopher Ripley of Modesto. In court, he was hunched and in shackles as his lawyer pleaded not guilty on his behalf to the charges and a judge set bail at $5 million.

The accused killer said little during the hearing other than to confirm his birth date to the judge and the correct pronunciation of his name.

Martinez was charged with murder and felony child abuse causing Christopher’s death. The child’s mother, Amanda Crews, 38, and his 6-year-old sister, Elizabeth Ripley, and 6-month-old half-sister, Rachael, were among the victims in the July 18 slayings in Modesto.

Martinez was the boyfriend of Crews, and the father of the baby killed in the massacre.

He has not been charged in the mass slayings that also claimed the lives of his mother, Anna Brown Romero, 57, and an unidentified 5-year-old relative.

Sitting in the courtroom Thursday was Christopher’s father, Timothy Ripley, who was surrounded by family and friends.

“The community needs to see that these people are loved and missed,” Ripley said. “Even though they are gone, they still need our support.”

Police Chief Galen Carroll has said the attacks at Crews’ Modesto home came two days after a forensic analysis of Christopher Ripley’s head injury concluded he was a victim of abuse and hit his head on a tiled floor.

Martinez, who was alone with Christopher at the time of the Sept. 30 incident, gave differing versions of what happened, investigators said. The version cited by police involved the boy falling and hitting his head on a carpeted floor while the two were play wrestling.

Investigators said Christopher had suffered earlier injuries documented by photos taken at his day care center.

Martinez and Crews denied any abuse related to those incidents, which they said occurred while the child was being potty trained. Martinez was free as investigators awaited the report on the child’s Oct. 2 death. Police have defended the nine-month delay, saying they had only one chance to bring a successful case.

Ripley said he hasn’t been given a clear reason why Modesto police did not seek charges as soon as the report confirming his son’s homicide came in two days before the multiple slayings.

“I keep asking the Modesto police department why they didn’t arrest him on Friday, and why they didn’t put the case together sooner,” he said. “I don’t think they were in all that big a hurry.”

The suspect was arrested just hours after the five slayings as he was leaving a San Jose movie theater with his father.

His attorney, Stephen Foley, invoked his client’s right to a speedy hearing on the charges and the next hearing is set for Wednesday morning. Foley declined to comment.

The Stanislaus County coroner’s office said the cause of death for the five victims has not been determined. The sheriff’s office issued a statement Wednesday night saying they were not identifying the 5-year-old victim out of respect for the family’s privacy.

District attorney spokesman John Goold said after the hearing that Martinez faces life in prison at most for the charges, not the death penalty. He would not discuss the five homicides, saying the matter is under investigation.