Mom, boyfriend held in felony child abuse

Jessie Martinez

Ashleigh Wallace

A mother and her boyfriend are accused of causing a “constellation” of injuries suffered by a 4-year-old boy, who’s now barely clinging to life, according to arrest warrant affidavits.

Jessie Martinez, 30, was charged Thursday at the Mesa County Jail on suspicion of two counts of felony child abuse and a misdemeanor count of child abuse. Martinez was jailed Tuesday on suspicion of violating parole.

His girlfriend, Ashleigh Wallace, 28, of Grand Junction, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of felony child abuse and false reporting to authorities.

The 4-year-old victim in the case, who is Wallace’s son, was taken by his mother to St. Mary’s Hospital about 4 p.m. on Jan. 13—a full two days after his mother claims she first noticed the boy’s injuries, according to the affidavit.

The boy was treated for a brain injury, a broken right arm and bruising in different stages of healing on his back, torso and genitals, the affidavit said. The boy’s condition “hadn’t improved” since the night of Jan. 13, when doctors said he would be brain dead within days, the affidavit said.

Wallace initially told Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputies her son “crashed and tumbled” during a sledding trip on the afternoon of Jan. 11. A doctor early on said Wallace’s story didn’t match her son’s injuries, which were immediately deemed “non-accidental trauma.”

Two other children, a 6-year-old boy and a 3-week-old girl, were removed from the couple’s home and placed into emergency custody on the night of Jan. 13.

Wallace, on Jan. 14, changed her story about how her son got injured, claiming Martinez had accidentally hit the boy in the head with a football.

“Ms. Wallace basically said Mr. Martinez denied knowing how (boy) got the bruises,” while suggesting they were from roughhousing, the affidavit said. “Wallace confirmed she has witnessed Mr. Martinez sometimes wrestle with her boys to the point they cry.”

The mother later refused a polygraph examination.

Martinez, meanwhile, initially denied knowledge of how the boy was hurt.

He later claimed Wallace was afraid her children would be taken by authorities, so they concocted a story about the boy getting injured while sledding.

“Both Mr. Martinez and Ms. Wallace independently admitted to noticing (boy’s) change in condition on the afternoon of Jan. 11,” the affidavit said. “Both Mr. Martinez and Ms. Wallace failed to seek medical care for (boy) until Jan. 13.”

That delay “substantially impacted” the boy’s medical condition, the affidavit said.

Both Wallace and Martinez are well-known to western Colorado law enforcement.

Wallace was arrested by the Montrose Police Department in August 2010 on suspicion of a host of charges, including domestic violence and misdemeanor child abuse, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records. She received a deferred judgment after pleading guilty to menacing.

The records show five additional arrests or citations dating back to 2009 on charges including disorderly conduct, obstructing government operations. Most recently, she was cited on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol in March 2012.

CBI records detail 18 arrests or citations for Martinez starting in 2001, including a June 2005 arrest when Martinez was accused among three men who assaulted a victim with baseball bats. He was sentenced to serve two years probation after pleading guilty to felony menacing, which authorities later accused him of violating by missing court-ordered anger management classes, among other charges, according to court records. “Please give me an opportunity to prove to you and the Courts that I intend and will take my second chance seriously and complete everything as required of me,” Martinez wrote in a letter dated Jan. 29, 2008, addressed to Chief Judge David Bottger.

The judge reinstated probation, ordering Martinez serve four years while also serving 18 months in Mesa County’s work release program.

Martinez was arrested yet again on suspicion of escape in October 2009 after failing to show up to work while under county supervision. He was sentenced to serve three and a half years in the Department of Corrections in February 2010 and served time before being released on parole back to Grand Junction. It wasn’t immediately known when Martinez was paroled. The affidavit in Martinez’s new case notes he was arrested Tuesday for an unspecified violation of parole, unrelated to the child abuse probe.


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