Trial Called Off In Case Of Flagstaff Boy Starved To Death

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The upcoming trial for the grandmother of a 6-year-old Flagstaff boy who died after being locked in a closet and denied food has been called off.

Ann Martinez was scheduled to go on trial next week on first-degree murder, kidnapping and child abuse charges. Instead, a judge will determine whether she's psychologically fit to stand trial.

Coconino County Superior Court Judge Ted Reed made the referral Wednesday for a determination of competency.

Martinez has pleaded not guilty to the charges in the death of her grandson, Deshaun Martinez. An autopsy found the boy, who weighed just 18 pounds (8.1 kilograms), died of starvation in March 2020.

The boy's parents — Elizabeth Archibeque and Anthony Martinez — also face murder, kidnapping and child abuse charges in Coconino County Superior Court. Their cases are being tried separately from the grandmother's case.

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 Deshaun and his older brother in a closet for 16 hours a day and gave them little to eat. The brother survived.

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

Ann Martinez has acknowledged spanking the boys with a red clothes hanger and said she tried to give them food but Archibeque wouldn’t allow it, according to court documents.