Kimberly Nicole Martines, a 23-year-old mom in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has been hit with a homicide charge this week after a horrifying incident in which, according to a report by WYFF TV in Greenville, she killed her 17-month-old baby girl Peyton, by force-feeding the infant a teaspoonful of salt.
Now a prosecutor in the case says that the young mom has confessed, and even told police what motivated her to poison her baby with salt — a motive that casts the crime in an even more heartbreaking and senseless light.
Speechless! Kimberly Martines charged with killing her 17-month-old baby by feeding her salt https://t.co/ZYHAaFIBQUThe family of the slain little girl called Peyton "the most beautiful, happiest, loving baby ever."
— Wayne Campbell (@WayneCamo) August 4, 2016
"She never cried and was a silly baby making everyone laugh. You could not help but smile when you was around her. She was a little diva who loved her nails done and her favorite thing ever was Minnie Mouse," the family statement said.
The new charge came after Baby Peyton passed away on Wednesday afternoon, three days after suffering severe seizures and being rushed to Spartanburg Medical Center, according to a statement by Spartanburg County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant Kevin Bobo, as reported by WECT TV.
Initially, Kimberly Martines had been charged with felony child abuse. Peyton was declared brain dead on Tuesday and removed from life support devices the following day, leading to the upgraded charge of homicide by child abuse.
According to prosecutor Barry Barnette, who spoke to local media on Wednesday, Kimberly Martines fed salt to her 17-month-old daughter in a twisted attempt to regain the affections of her husband, from whom she is separated and who is reportedly the father of little Peyton Martines.
"She basically did that to try and get her husband's attention, to get him back into her life," Barnette alleged.
Kimberly Martines told police that she woke up on Sunday to hear her daughter screaming, according to the police account. She later confessed, they say, to feeding an entire teaspoon of salt to the little girl, and washing it down with a drink of some kind.
But the accused mom's sister cannot believe the charges, and says that Kimberly could not have committed the crime.
"She was a great mother. She would've never done anything to hurt her kids at all," Martines' sister, Tiffany Lazar, told WYFF TV after a bond hearing for Kimberly. "There's a lot more that went on than people understand. No one should judge her at all, and there's nothing in this world that would make her hurt her babies."
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Little Peyton Martines had already experienced difficulties in her short life. In November of last year, the girl's pediatric doctor expressed concern that Peyton was not gaining weight properly and was experiencing slowed development. He recommended that Martines take the girl to a gastrointenstinal specialist.
But Kimberly Martines never followed through by taking her daughter to the medical appointment, the WYFF report said.
Sad news....23-year-old Kimberly Martines has been charged with homicide by child abuse after feeding her baby salt. https://t.co/xnNTpe8aeMWhile salt, even ordinary kitchen salt, can be dangerous in high amounts to all human beings, overdoses are rare, and children are more susceptible to salt poisoning, known as hypernatremia.
— WBTW News 13 (@WBTWNews13) August 4, 2016
According to a report by KXTV, however, Kimberly Martines is not the first mom in recent years to murder her child with an excessive feeding of salt. A 27-year-old mother in Kentucky did the same thing to her 5-year-old son last year. And a Texas mom-of-five was convicted of killing a 4-year-old foster child by salt poisoning in 2007.
Kimberly Martines is also the mother of two other children, including a twin sister to Peyton and an older child as well. Both of those children are now in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
[Featured Photos via Martines Family Photo, Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office]