Woman avoids prison term in abuse case
A Grand Junction woman will get a chance to avoid prison in a child abuse case that left her 4-year-old son with brain damage, confining him to a wheelchair.
Ashleigh Wallace, 28, was sentenced Wednesday by District Judge Valerie Robison to six years in Mesa County Community Corrections. Robison ordered her to have no contact with children under age 18 and ordered her to complete cognitive-restructuring classes. The judge also gave her 133 days of pre-sentence confinement credit. Robison also imposed a seven-year suspended sentence to the Colorado Department of Corrections — Wallace’s fate if she flunks out of Community Corrections.
Under a plea agreement, Wallace faced a maximum possible 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to separate counts of child abuse causing serious bodily injury and attempt to influence a public servant.
Wallace and her former boyfriend, Jessie Martinez, 30, were charged similarly in connection with injuries suffered by 4-year-old Elijah Wallace, Ashleigh’s son, in early January.
Elijah had a broken right arm, severe head trauma and several bruises on his body when his mother brought him to St. Mary’s Hospital on Jan. 13.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Hand said Martinez told investigators Wallace on Jan. 11 opted not to seek medical care for her son after he’d told her the boy had somehow ingested one of his mother’s sleeping pills. The boy was later shown to have not consumed any medication.
Among the litany of injuries observed by doctors when Wallace finally sought care for her son on Jan. 13, Elijah had a subdural hematoma.
“The sad part of this case is if acted upon quickly, this would not have had lasting effect,” Hand told the judge. “She didn’t want to lose her children, so she wouldn’t go to the hospital and hoped for the best. She let Elijah lay there for two days.”
Robison challenged a defense suggestion Wallace didn’t know how serious her son’s condition was on the evening of Jan. 11, at which point authorities believe he’d been critically injured by Martinez. Authorities believe the boy was hurt while she was away.
“How would you believe a young child could consume a sleeping pill and be OK?” the judge asked.
Martinez, 30, will be sentenced to 15 to 27 years in prison after a guilty plea to a lone count of child abuse causing serious bodily injury. He’s scheduled for sentencing July 25.
Wallace had two other children, including a boy and girl, who were in the home at the time of Elijah’s injuries. Months before Elijah was hospitalized in January, his brother had reported Martinez had abused him, “kicking him so hard it caused a bruise on his hip,” Hand told the judge.
Wallace, however, contradicted her son’s story when police questioned her and told investigators the boy makes up stories.
After her arrest in Elijah’s case, she admitted her other son was telling the truth months earlier.
“Wallace chose to protect (Martinez), stay in that environment and she knew what he was capable of,” Hand said to the judge.
Linda Mitchell, Wallace’s stepmother, said Elijah remains confined to a wheelchair with severe brain injury, unable to speak or eat on his own and with limited use of his arms and legs.
“You can see the frustrations in his eyes, but we can’t do anything about it,” Mitchell told the judge. “He’s paid a price for his mother’s choices.”