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story.lead_photo.caption Edward Alexis Martinez-Torres (center), 22, of Springdale pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder at the Benton County courthouse in Bentonville. He was charged in connection with the 2016 death of a 3-month-old boy in Bethel Heights. - Photo by Tracy Neal

BENTONVILLE -- A Springdale man admitted he used cocaine before slapping a 3-month-old baby, causing skull fractures and led to the boy's death.

Edward Alexis Martinez-Torres, 22, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder. He was originally charged with capital murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge under an agreement his attorney Drew Ledbetter reached with Carrie Dobbs, deputy prosecutor.


First-degree murder is punishable with a prison sentence of 10 years to life in Arkansas. Capital murder is punishable with life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty.

Source: Staff report

Bethel Heights police and medical personnel went to 2923 Kings Drive on June 9, 2016, for an emergency call of a baby not breathing.

The child, referred to as "J.R." in the redacted probable cause affidavit, was taken to Northwest Medical Center-Springdale and later transferred to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock. Children's Hospital doctors determined the boy suffered a skull fracture and an autopsy found the skull fracture was caused by non-impact compressive force, according to court documents.

Martinez-Torres, who was babysitting, said he was in the kitchen preparing food and the child was in the bedroom crying. Martinez-Torres was dating the infant's mother, Kanchana Montero, according to court documents.

Martinez-Torres said he couldn't get the baby to stop crying. He told police he slapped the baby on the face with an open hand, then grabbed him by the forehead, "palming and squeezing" it while pushing the infant's head into the mattress, according to court documents.

"You slapped a baby hard enough to cause skull fractures?" Circuit Judge Robin Green asked Martinez-Torres.

Dobbs told the judge law enforcement and the boy's mother were in agreement with the negotiated plea.

"No terms of years will bring her child back, but she's hopeful it will bring closure and allow her to move forward with her life," Dobbs said.

The judge said she was reluctantly accepting the plea agreement which she described as lenient.

Green sentenced Martinez-Torres to 25 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. He must serve 17 years before he's eligible for parole and must abide by a suspended sentence agreement for 15 years after his release.

Martinez-Torres received 554 days of credit for the time he spent in the Benton County Jail awaiting his trial. He must pay $1,420 in court-associated costs.

Martinez-Torres apologized to Montero, who was present in court. He thanked family and told them he loved them. He thanked Ledbetter for his work on the case.

"Finally, I want to say that when I get out of prison I will be a better member of society and never step in court again," Martinez-Torres told the judge.

NW News on 12/22/2017

Print Headline: Man gets 25 years in prison for killing baby

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