Deshaun Martinez Flagstaff Arizona boy starves to death as punishment for stealing food. Parents, Elizabeth Archibeque & Anthony Martinez charged along w/ grandmother, Ann Martinez.
A six-year-old boy, Deshaun Martinez who was allegedly locked in a cupboard for a month as punishment for stealing food weighed just 18lbs (8 kgs) when he starved to death, according to an autopsy report.
The boy’s parents, Elizabeth Archibeque, 26, and Anthony Martinez, 23, and his grandmother, Ann Martinez, 50, of Flagstaff, Arizona, were on Tuesday charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and child abuse in his death. They have pleaded not guilty and are being held on $3 million bond, according to AZCentral.
An autopsy report released this week determined Deshaun dying of starvation and listed the manner of death as homicide.
It described the child as having the same weight as a baby and looking ‘skeletal’ with almost zero body fat and brittle hair.
Prosecutors have until late July to decide whether they will seek capital punishment in the case Associated Press reported.
Betrayed by the very people who were supposed to protect him
Police say they responded to the apartment where Deshaun lived with his family on the afternoon of March 2 and found him laying on the living floor unresponsive.
‘The physical appearance of the six-year old child did not compliment his age, appearing malnourished,’ the police said in a statement.
When medical personnel arrived they were not able to resuscitate the child, who was pronounced deceased on scene.
His parents initially attributed their son’s malnourished state to a medical condition and to ingesting diet or caffeine pills according to KSAZ-TV.
Eventually, they told police they kept Deshaun and his seven-year-old brother in a closet for 16 hours a day and gave them little to eat.
The boys were kept in lockup from 8pm until 12pm the following day when they would eat oatmeal. Four hours later, they were allowed a cheese sandwich.
Their two younger sisters, ages four and two, did not appear malnourished.
Police said the boys’ confinement was punishment for stealing food while the parents slept.
According to investigators, the brothers’ grandmother was aware of the conditions they were kept in.
Deshaun’s medical history showed he had trouble gaining weight, according to the autopsy report. He was hospitalized at two weeks old due to sepsis and a urinary tract infection that resulted in fevers and vomiting at every feed.
Before being discharged after a 10-day stay, his parents were counseled on how to keep him at a healthy weight, the report said.
Deshaun’s weight climbed to 34lbs at age four but dropped to 27lbs a year later and 18lbs when he died — the same weight he was at age one.
Medical examiner Lawrence Czarnecki said that put Deshaun in the third percentile for his age and said he was in a ‘non-life-sustaining state of starvation.’
Archibeque told police Deshaun was ‘fed a lot’ but gained little weight.
Anthony Martinez said the family was on a budget and was awaiting food stamps to buy more fatty food for Deshaun.
Czarnecki noted the boy had a skeletal appearance with skin stretched over his bones and almost no body fat. His skin was depressed into the cavities of his face. His eyes were sunken and surrounded by dark circles. His hair was brittle.
The boy also had abrasions and bruises on his body that weren’t life-threatening, according to the autopsy report.
Deshaun’s three siblings were taken under the wing of the Arizona Department of Child Safety, department spokesman Darren DaRonco told KSAZ in March, adding, ‘DCS mourns the tragic loss of this innocent life.’