Sentencing is set for Arizona mother guilty of murder and child abuse in starvation of her son

27 July 2023

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona mother who pleaded guilty to murder and child abuse is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in the death of her 6-year-old son who was kept in a closet and denied food at their Flagstaff apartment.

Elizabeth Archibeque faces a maximum penalty of up to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the March 2020 death of Deshaun Martinez when she goes before Coconino County Superior Court Judge Ted Reed.

Archibeque was charged along with the boy’s father, Anthony Martinez, and grandmother, Ann Martinez, who have pleaded not guilty and are being tried separately on murder and child abuse charges.

An autopsy determined Deshaun Martinez, who weighed just 18 pounds (8.1 kilograms), died of severe starvation. Authorities found him unresponsive after Ann Martinez called 911 on March 2, 2020, and said she thought her grandson was dead. The manner of death later was listed as homicide.

The boy’s parents initially attributed their son’s malnourished state to a medical condition and to ingesting diet or caffeine pills. Eventually, they told police they kept him and his older brother in a closet for 16 hours a day and gave them little to eat. The brother survived.

The boys’ confinement was punishment for stealing food while the parents slept, police said. Their two sisters were found healthy in the apartment where they all lived.

Archibeque reached an agreement with prosecutors earlier this year to plead guilty in the case. The terms of the agreement state that she will not be eligible for probation, and if sentenced to life in prison, she will not be eligible for any kind of parole or work release.

Prosecutors decided early on they wouldn’t pursue the death penalty.

Lawyers for Ann Martinez are scheduled to appear at a case management conference Sept. 18 with her trial currently set to begin in January 2024. Anthony Martinez had been scheduled to go to trial earlier this year, but the trial date was vacated and has not been reset.

Need Help?

Please use the contact form to get support. Thank you.