A 6-year-old boy whose family reportedly locked him in a closet weighed just one stone when he died of starvation in March.
Deshaun Martinez’s parents, Elizabeth Archibeque and Anthony Martinez, have reportedly admitted to police that they kept two of their sons in a closet in their apartment in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Deshaun and his seven-year-old brother were detained for 16 hours a day for a month and received little to eat, it is said.
In early March, police arrived at the apartment and found Deshaun unresponsive and skeletally thin.
His parents told the officers that he had a medical condition and blamed him for his dangerously low weight.
In the end, they confessed that they locked him and his older brother in a closet as a punishment for stealing food at night, the Associated Press reports.
Father Anthony Martinez said the family was on a tight budget and was waiting for food stamps to buy more food for their children.
Deshaun was pronounced dead and an autopsy revealed that he had struggled to gain weight during his short life.
He was hospitalized at two weeks with sepsis and a urinary tract infection that made him feverish and vomiting every time he was fed.
Before he was discharged as a baby, his parents were reportedly given advice on how to keep him at a healthy weight.
At the age of four, Deshaun’s weight peaked at 34 pounds, but dropped to 27 pounds a year later.
When he died, he weighed just 18 pounds, the same weight as a year old.
Medical investigator Lawrence Czarnecki said that at the time of his death, Deshaun was in a “non-sustaining state of starvation.” He had brittle hair, sunken eyes and almost no body fat, as well as non-life-threatening cuts and bruises.
The autopsy determined that Deshaun died of starvation and described the manner of death as murder.
His parents and grandmother, Ann Martinez, have been charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and child abuse and have pleaded innocent.
Deshaun’s siblings, who are two, four, and seven years old, have all been taken into custody by the Arizona Department of Child Safety.