Suspect in abuse case attempted jail suicide
Jessie Martinez, the primary suspect in a severe child-abuse investigation involving a 4-year-old boy whose survival remains in question, made a “serious attempt” at suicide while in the custody of the Mesa County Jail on Wednesday, District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said during bond arguments.
“I assume because of the pendency of these charges,” Hautzinger told County Judge Bruce Raaum on Friday.
The Mesa County Sheriff’s Department has confirmed little about the incident, saying only an inmate around 9 a.m. Wednesday suffered a self-inflicted wound before being transported a local hospital. Initial emergency radio reports said a man managed to cut his wrists and was bleeding badly.
Martinez, 30, was booked at the jail Tuesday on suspicion of violating parole, unrelated to the child-abuse probe.
Hautzinger told the judge Martinez and his girlfriend, Ashleigh Wallace, 28, are “more likely than not” to face more serious charges depending on survival of the victim, Wallace’s son, Elijah Wallace. He was listed Friday in critical condition at St. Mary’s Hospital.
The district attorney noted Martinez is eligible to be prosecuted as a habitual criminal — potentially enhancing penalties — although Hautzinger did not commit to filing such charges.
Martinez, who was arrested on a Sheriff’s Department warrant listing two counts of felony child abuse and one count of misdemeanor child abuse, was ordered by Raaum held at the jail on $100,000 bond. He’s unable to post that bond because of a parole hold.
“My family’s looking into getting an attorney for me,” Martinez told the judge.
Wallace, meanwhile, was ordered held on $100,000 bond on suspicion of felony child abuse and false reporting. She was arrested Thursday. A public defender who spoke on Wallace’s behalf told the judge Wallace was serving unsupervised probation relating to a March 2012 driving while ability impaired arrest.
Asked if Wallace is suspected of causing any of the injuries suffered by her son, Hautzinger answered this way:
“The issue of not immediately seeking medical care weighed heavily in the overall charging decision,” the DA said after Friday’s hearing.
Elijah Wallace had a broken right arm, severe head trauma and bruises on his back, torso and genitals when his mother brought him to St. Mary’s on the afternoon of Jan. 13, according to arrest warrant affidavits. Martinez and Wallace both acknowledged during interviews they noticed changes in the boy’s condition two days earlier. The delay in seeking treatment “substantially impacted” Elijah’s condition, the affidavit said.
The couple offered varying accounts on how the boy was hurt. Martinez told an investigator Wallace was afraid of losing her children, the affidavit said.
Wallace’s other two 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.
Both Martinez and Wallace are expected to be formally charged next Thursday.