Date: May 28, 2023
Flagstaff, Arizona – In a heartbreaking case that has shocked the community, an Arizona mother has pleaded guilty to murder and child abuse charges following the tragic death of her 6-year-old son. Elizabeth Archibeque reached a plea agreement with prosecutors earlier this month, as reported by the Arizona Daily Sun on Saturday.
The terms of the plea agreement stipulate that Archibeque will not be eligible for probation. If sentenced to life in prison, she will also be denied any form of parole or work release. The charges against her were filed alongside the boy’s father, Anthony Martinez, and grandmother, Ann Martinez, although the cases are being tried separately.
The devastating incident occurred in March 2020 when the lifeless body of Deshaun Martinez was discovered. An autopsy later revealed that the cause of death was starvation. Shockingly, the child weighed a mere 18 pounds at the time, significantly below the average weight for his age. Upon further investigation, authorities learned that the boy had been confined to a closet and deliberately deprived of food.
During police interviews, both the mother and father, as well as the grandmother, admitted that the two boys, aged 6 and 7, were frequently locked in a closet and rarely allowed outside the confines of their home. The parents justified their cruel actions by claiming that the children had been stealing food by sneaking out at night while they slept.
It was determined that both children were severely malnourished and did not appear to be the appropriate weight for their ages. The 7-year-old sibling was immediately admitted to Flagstaff Medical Center and is currently in the custody of the Department of Child Safety.
Authorities also discovered two other children, a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old, within the household. Fortunately, these children were not malnourished, and the 4-year-old regularly attended school. All four children are biologically related to Jose and Elizabeth Archibeque-Martinez, according to investigators. The Department of Child Safety had not previously visited the home for an investigation.
Investigators are now conducting interviews with family members and neighbors to determine if anyone was aware of the abuse and, if so, for how long. Given the close-knit nature of the community, authorities find it unusual that such extreme abuse could have gone unnoticed.
As part of the ongoing investigation, detectives executed a search warrant at the residence. Meanwhile, a medical examiner is working diligently to determine the exact cause of death for the 6-year-old victim.
Anthony Jose Archibeque-Martinez, 23, Elizabeth Archibeque-Martinez, 26, and Ann Marie Martinez, 50, are currently being held at the Coconino County Jail on one count each of first-degree felony homicide and two counts each of child abuse, according to a statement released by the Flagstaff Police Department. This devastating case serves as a somber reminder of the urgency to protect and safeguard the well-being of all children.
Credits: NBC News