An Arizona mother, Elizabeth Archibeque-Martinez, has pleaded guilty to charges of murder in the first degree and child abuse after intentionally starving her 6-year-old son, Deshaun Martinez, to death.
The plea agreement was reached earlier this month, and Archibeque-Martinez now faces the possibility of spending the rest of her life behind bars.
The tragic case unfolded in March 2020 when the lifeless body of Deshaun Martinez was discovered at the family’s residence in Flagstaff, Arizona. An autopsy conducted by the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that the boy died of starvation, weighing only 18 pounds at the time of his death.
The autopsy also showed that Deshaun had a “skeletal appearance” due to the lack of fat on his body, well below the average weight for a 6-year-old in the United States.
Archibeque-Martinez, along with the boy’s father, Anthony Jose Archibeque-Martinez, and grandmother, Ann Marie Martinez, were arrested in connection with the crime. The parents initially provided false explanations for Deshaun’s condition, attributing it to a chronic medical condition and the ingestion of caffeine or weight loss pills. However, further investigation revealed a disturbing pattern of punishment inflicted on the children.
According to police, Deshaun and his older brother were locked in a closet for approximately 16 hours a day and deprived of food as a form of discipline. The parents admitted that this punishment had been ongoing for about a month, intended to deter the boys from leaving their beds at night and eating food without permission.
The surviving 7-year-old brother was also found to be malnourished and was admitted to Flagstaff Medical Center. The Arizona Department of Child Safety has taken custody of the 7-year-old, along with two younger siblings aged 4 and 2.
The cases against Anthony Jose Archibeque-Martinez and Ann Marie Martinez are being tried separately, with multiple delays in proceedings. Elizabeth Archibeque-Martinez is set to be sentenced before Coconino County Superior Court Judge Ted Reed later this summer. According to the terms of her plea agreement, she will not be eligible for probation, and if sentenced to life in prison, she will serve the remainder of her life behind bars without the possibility of parole or work release.