The brutality behind the murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens has left the state of New Mexico in complete shock, and on Tuesday leaders from both the city and the county came together for a special meeting aimed at addressing the safety of children in the wake of what is being described as the worst murder even veterans have seen. An online petition requesting that convicted child killers be given life in prison, without parole, is also being circulated.
Last week, the Albuquerque Police Department revealed the details of the horrific murder of the 10-year-old New Mexico girl. Authorities made it known that Victoria was given methamphetamine by her mother Michelle Martens, her boyfriend Fabian Gonzales and his cousin Jessica Kelley so as to “calm her down” while Gonzales and Kelley sexually assaulted her. Following this act the little girl was strangled, stabbed in the chest, dismembered her body and set her on fire in the bathtub of the Arroyo Villas Apartment.
Police found the body of the brutally slain murder victim after a neighbor called in complaining of a disturbance coming from that apartment.
KRQE reported that the online petition was created by Albuquerque resident Stephen Judy, angered by the murder of young children in his state. The New Mexico community now adds Victoria Martens’ murder to that of nine-year-old Omaree Varela, who was kicked to death by his mother and Ashlynne Mike, an 11-year-old Navajo girl who was kidnapped, molested, bludgeoned with a tire iron, and left to die in the desert — naked and bleeding. Varela’s mother was sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing her son while the felony charges against the man who took young Ashlynne Mike all carry a sentence of life in prison.
The legislation that the lawmakers are being asked to pass would ensure that all convicted child killers are not only sentenced to 120 years in the New Mexico Department Of Corrections but that they are also given life without the possibility of parole. The petition has been called “Victoria’s Martens Act” and Judy says that it the least that could be done in the name of justice for these and all Mew Mexico children.
“I could talk to anybody about this, their eyes start watering. Everybody’s affected by this. We have to stand up for our children and the State of New Mexico and we’ve gotta do something to protect the kids.”
In the few days since it has been established, the online petition has already garnered more than 4,000 signatures seeking to make the bill law. Henry Valdez, who works with the New Mexico District Attorney’s Association explained that as the law stands now, the only people who are given life without parole if convicted of killing a child are also guilty of having committed kidnapping or rape. However, a general life sentence in New Mexico means eligibility for parole after 30 years.
Some persons are lobbying for the death penalty to be brought back, including the mother of Ashlynne Mike, in the wake of the horrible crimes against children taking place.
When the leaders from the community came together after Victoria Martens’ mother assisted with her murder it was with thoughts towards making the community safe once more and they discussed numerous ways to accomplish such a task. The community leaders spoke of improving drug treatment programs, mental health services and prevention of child abuse. According to the Albuquerque Journal, Sgt. Amy Dudewicz who works in the special victims unit of the New Mexico’s sheriff’s office, spoke before the council meeting and has said that very often, her office actually receives more child-abuse and neglect referrals than they are capable of responding to.
The special meeting the councilors and commissioners held saw testimonies and suggestions on safety tips coming from neighborhood leaders, educators, foster parents, pediatricians and others. City Councilor Klarissa Peña said that the goal of the meeting is to honor the memory of Victoria Martens by finding new ways to address child abuse and other related problems, such as mental illness and drug addiction. Peña also said that the community leaders hope that this will be the first of many such open dialogue discussions among the New Mexico community.
Some suggestions to address the safety of children were as simple as raising awareness on how suspected child abuse can be reported properly to costly ventures like adding the presence of social workers and police officers to more schools. In the state of New Mexico reporting abuse is mandatory, everyone — not just teachers — are required to report suspected child abuse. Two pediatricians from the University of New Mexico said that more resources are needed, as for every child abuse story that makes the news, that there are hundreds of other children harmed.
The meeting lasted about three hours and now the city and county leaders have the task of figuring out how to implement the suggestions they heard from the community and local agencies.
[Photo by Russell Contreras/ AP Images]