Arizona man gets life sentence on murder conviction in starvation death of 6-year-old son

Anthony Martinez

A northern Arizona man has been sentenced to prison for the rest of his life on convictions including first-degree murder in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son, according to court proceedings.

A Coconino County judge sentenced Anthony Martinez, 28, on Friday to life in prison on the murder conviction, with additional prison sentences linked to child abuse and kidnapping convictions in the abuse of the deceased child and an older sibling.

Additionally, cumulative sentences of three years prison were added on two convictions for aggravated assault, which can be served concurrently or credited against time served.

The Arizona Daily Sun reported that Martinez declined to speak during the court hearing but wrote a letter to his children that was read aloud by a defense attorney, apologizing "for all the things I put you through."

A legal representative for Martinez did not immediately respond to telephone and email messages seeking comment Saturday.

Presiding Judge Ted Reed cited aggravating factors in sentencing Martinez, describing the crimes as especially heinous and cruel while Martinez was in a position of trust as the children’s father. The judge also acknowledged that Martinez suffered through a traumatic childhood and that he had no prior felony convictions.

Authorities say the boy who died, Deshaun Martinez, was locked in a tiny bedroom closet for 16 hours a day over a month with his older brother as punishment for stealing food in the home at night while their parents slept.

An autopsy showed the boy weighed just 18 pounds (8.1 kilograms) when he died — well below average for his age. The manner of death was listed as a homicide.

The boy’s mother, Elizabeth Archibeque, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and child abuse and was sentenced in July 2023 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.