Friday, 4 November 2011

SBS: Idaho: Teresa Oriana Martinez to be tried for AHT

  • RUPERT • A Rupert woman faces a December jury trial for alleged felony injury to a child related to the 2008 death of her infant girl.
    According to court records, 3-month-old Nivea Lopez died Dec. 19, 2008, after she was taken off life support at a Pocatello hospital. The final autopsy performed on the child revealed that she sustained abusive head injuries that included skull fractures, multiple rib fractures — some that had healed — and other injuries.
    The child’s death certificate notes her cause of death as “abusive head injury” and the manner of death as “homicide.”
    The child’s mother, 20-year-old Teresa Oriana Martinez, is scheduled to face a jury on the charge at 9 a.m. Dec. 13 in Minidoka County 5th District Court.
    The child’s father, Jaime Lopez, 25, has pleaded guilty to a felony injury to a child charge related to the infant’s death. According to a plea agreement, he will also plead guilty to a probation violation related to a rape conviction and testify truthfully in Martinez’s trial. He will be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 28 in Minidoka County.
    Under the plea agreement, the state recommended that Lopez be sentenced to 3 1/2 to 10 years in prison.
    Minidoka County Prosecutor Lance Stevenson said Friday that the cases against Lopez and Martinez were originally investigated as first-degree murder.
    “Based on the evidence, the appropriate charge was felony injury to a child,” Stevenson said.
    Stevenson said both parents were in custody of the child when she was critically injured on Dec. 16, 2008, but the state does not have enough evidence to charge either with murder.
    “If we did, we would charge it,” Stevenson said.
    Court records show that an examination of the child’s eyes revealed damage indicative of shaken-baby syndrome. The Kempe Child Protection Team of Colorado said the child’s injuries were consistent with child abuse and indicated a pattern of multiple episodes of abuse.
    A Pocatello nurse who cared for the baby in the hospital told police that she overheard the parents discussing the need to keep their stories straight. A second nurse who was present when the baby was taken off life support said Martinez asked her how long it would take a shaken baby to die. The nurse described the conversation as “cold.”
    The maximum punishment for felony injury to a child is 10 years in state prison.

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