A 19-year-old Gilbert father was arrested Friday on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with the death of his 2-month-old daughter, who died at a local hospital on Thursday after suffering serious head injuries, according to police.
Ricky Martinez, who is being booked into the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail, also was arrested on suspicion of child abuse in an investigation that is ongoing, police said.
Gilbert police received a 911 call from Martinez about 1 p.m. Sunday after he drove the baby to a Gilbert fire station at 215 N. Gilbert Road. Martinez told authorities the baby fell off the bed and onto a carpeted floor when he was changing her diaper at the request of his fiancee, according to police. However, police said the injuries reported by doctors were not consistent with what Martinez described to police.
Evidence indicates that the infant's head injuries were a result of Martinez's actions, according to police.
The baby was pronounced dead at 6:40 a.m. Thursday after being taken off life support, police said.
"The evidence indicates that he is responsible for the child's injuries," Gilbert police Sgt. Mark Marino said of Thursday's death. "We're still in the midst of our investigation."
Marino, a Gilbert police spokesman, told the Tribune late Friday that Martinez was arrested at a business office near Gilbert and Guadalupe roads and that the infant's death marked the town's second homicide this year from severe child abuse.
Overall in the East Valley this year, there have been five deaths from alleged severe child abuse, with the other three deaths in Chandler. The oldest victim was a 3-year-old girl.
In a similar case in May, Gilbert police arrested David Arnold Reed III at his mother's home in the 500 block of South Pandora Drive on suspicion of first-degree murder and child abuse in connection with the death of his daughter. Reed's arrest came two days after his mother called 911 to report that the 13-month-old baby girl had fallen and was unresponsive.
A doctor at Maricopa Medical Center declared Cheree Goard brain-dead as she arrived at the emergency room. She was pronounced dead the following day and the child's injuries did not fit what Reed had described, police said.
According to a court document, an autopsy found the baby had 5-inch-long skull fractures on each side of her head, a healed fracture of her collar bone and a broken arm.
Reed, 22, later was charged with first-degree murder and child abuse, and his trial is scheduled to begin early next year, according to Maricopa County Superior Court records.