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Logan • A North Logan man who fatally injured his 4-month-old son two years ago was sentenced Tuesday to prison for up to 15 years.
First District Court Judge Kevin Allen concurred with the recommendation of the Cache County Attorney's Office that Francisco Javier Martinez serve no more than five years and that he receive credit for 21 months and 10 days already served in the Cache County Jail.
Martinez, 37, of North Logan, was initially charged with first-degree felony child abuse homicide and two other counts of child abuse for the November 2009 murder of his son, Jesus Yandel Martinez. But he agreed to a plea deal that resulted in a single, reduced second-degree felony child abuse homicide charge.
As part of that agreement, Martinez described and demonstrated to law enforcement officials and medical personnel the series of assaults on the infant beginning in October 2009 when he broke the baby's leg, continuing a few weeks later when he broke two of his ribs and ending on Nov. 18, when the child died as a result of injuries to the brain from being slammed twice into Martinez's lap.
Prosecuting attorney Andrew McAdams told the court that Martinez' "full disclosure" about the abuses will be a powerful tool in the nationwide fight against child abuse known commonly as "shaken baby syndrome."
Martinez has described the incidents and demonstrated his abuses for law enforcement officials and doctors from Primary Children's Medical Center, who will use the videotaped interviews to educate others, McAdams said. As part of the plea agreement, Martinez has also been ordered to participate in a public service announcement aimed at preventing child abuse in Latino families, where resources are often limited Martinez has provided information that will save lives, McAdams told the court.
"You can't hurt a baby by letting the baby stay in the crib and cry. If you need to get out so that you don't snap, go to your garage and let it cry for a half-hour…" McAdams said. "This type of case can and does happen to anybody whether you are a criminal offender, whether you are a drug user or whether you are the most devout religious person on the planet. It can happen."
Defense attorney James J. Lee said the "daily grind" became difficult for Martinez, who was the full-time caregiver for his four children after he came to the United States illegally. Aside from the abuse of the infant son, Lee said Martinez was a loving husband and an affectionate father with no prior crimes, who cleaned the house and prepared the family's meals.
"He did not have a social system. Francisco bottled up most of his emotions because he didn't think there was another option," Lee said. "Each incident where there was an injury came on a day when the children were particularly misbehaving. On the final day, a couple of the children were crying and one was sick and vomiting. Ever since that day, Mr. Martinez has lived in virtual torment, living in the knowledge, the guilt of killing his baby."
Using a translator, Martinez tearfully apologized and expressed his love for his children. He said he had a record of good behavior at the jail and accepts full responsibility for his crimes.
"I regret everything. I don't know what was going through my head. I killed my son," he said. "My biggest punishment is that I won't get to talk to my son again."
Allen said this case was tragic because a small child is no longer allowed to pursue his potential.
"We'll never know would have been a great political leader, innovative scientist, compassionate medical care provider or perhaps even an insightful student of the law. Whenever a child is murdered we lose the potential for that child to change the world," Allen said. "I can understand the frustration of being a father of young children. When you lost control the first time, I don't understand how you could keep going, knowing the potential danger that you have inside of you."
Allen told Martinez that his life isn't over and he urged the immigrant not to return to the U.S. after his deportation.
"Wherever you reside, I hope you are able to salvage some sort of life for yourself, that you are able to make yourself a better person," Allen said. "Frankly I think that is the only way you will receive a small measure of peace for what you have done."