Man gets 25 years in abuse of boy, 4
A Grand Junction man who denies critically injuring his girlfriend’s 4-year-old son, potentially confining the child to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, was sentenced Friday to serve 25 years in prison.
Jessie Martinez, 31, could have received anything from 15 to 27 years under the terms of a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty to a single count of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury.
“There’s not a day that passes I don’t wish I could trade places with Elijah,” Martinez told District Judge Valerie Robison.
Martinez, the father of seven children, not including Elijah, told the judge he’d failed “common sense” in waiting some three days in January before seeking medical care for Elijah, the son of Martinez’s former girlfriend, 28-year-old Ashleigh Wallace.
Martinez, who has nine prior convictions including escape and assault charges, avoided a potential life sentence with the plea agreement. Martinez was granted “a benefit” with the plea bargain because of his statements to investigators in the case, Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Hand said, justifying the deal to the judge.
“He told us some of what happened,” Hand said, repeatedly suggesting authorities don’t believe Martinez was completely forthcoming.
Elijah was admitted at St. Mary’s Hospital on Jan. 13 with a broken right arm, aside from bruises on his genitals, torso, arms and face. He’d also suffered severe head trauma, which doctors concluded could have been mitigated had Wallace and Martinez sought medical care for the boy on Jan. 11, when they acknowledged first observing changes in the boy’s condition.
Martinez admitted breaking the boy’s arm while wrestling with him, while suggesting the head trauma was caused when the boy fell off a counter while reaching for food, Hand told the judge Friday. Doctors said the head injuries, including a subdural hematoma, could have happened in the manner described by Martinez or could have resulted from rough wrestling.
“We don’t know the answer,” the prosecutor said.
The one independent witness to what happened, Elijah’s older brother, gave limited information but expressed fear of Martinez.
“(Brother) tells officers, ‘I don’t want to get in trouble,’ and stops talking,” Hand said.
Ashleigh Wallace was sentenced in June to six years in Mesa County Community Corrections, while Robison also imposed a suspended seven-year prison sentence. Elijah, meanwhile, remains confined to a wheelchair, unable to feed, bathe or dress himself with dim prospects for a normal life, Linda Mitchell, the boy’s grandmother, said.
“You’ll walk out of prison one day,” she told Martinez. “Elijah will never walk again.”