A 35-year-old Thermal woman is being prosecuted on two felony charges in the death of her newborn son, who had methamphetamine in his system and was found dead in a Mecca park more than a year ago, court documents show.
Esmeralda Gonzalez Martinez was initially arrested in Thermal on Oct. 14, 2013 — the same day the baby was found at Mecca Community Park in the 65200 block of Coahuilla Street — but charges weren’t filed until earlier this month.
If a suspect in custody isn’t charged within 48 hours, they must be released. It wasn’t immediately clear why it took over a year to file charges.
Martinez was re-arrested Dec. 12, and pleaded not guilty on Dec. 17 to one felony count each of voluntary manslaughter and child cruelty. She is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail and is due back in court Dec. 29 for a felony settlement conference, according to court records.
According to a declaration filed in support of an arrest warrant, a park maintenance employee found the baby inside a leg of a pair of women’s pants, and responding paramedics pronounced the infant dead.
“The umbilical cord and placenta were still attached to the baby,” Riverside County sheriff’s Investigator Alberto Loureiro wrote.
Sheriff’s deputies found Martinez sitting on a nearby park bench with blood on the seat of her pants. She was taken to JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio and was arrested that evening, according to sheriff’s officials.
In an initial interview with detectives, Martinez said “she did not know who the father was because she slept with a lot of men and never confessed what happened,” according to the declaration. In a later interview, Martinez said she gave birth in the park’s playground, and the infant “slipped from her hands and fell to the ground from the jumbo gym,” a three-foot drop, Loureiro wrote. “She said her baby cried
for about 15 minutes after he fell before she passed out.”
Martinez said she snorted meth and drank beer “hours” before giving birth, and both she and the baby tested positive for meth, according to Loureiro, who said the Riverside County Coroner’s Office listed the infant’s cause of death as “acute methamphetamine intoxication.”
News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 will keep you updated as the case moves forward in court.