UTAH STATE PRISON — In 2011, Francisco Javier Martinez was sentenced to one to 15 years in the Utah State Prison for killing his 3-month-old son by inflicting serious head trauma.
Martinez was convicted of child abuse homicide.
At the time of sentencing, a judge recommended to the Utah State Board of Pardons and Parole that Martinez serve no more than five years because of his willingness to cooperate with prosecutors.
At the time, there was limited research data on shaken baby syndrome, according to a letter submitted to the court by deputy Cache County attorney Andrew McAdams.
“Consequently, these cases are difficult to prosecute because of the limited amount of medical research that is available on shaken baby cases,” the letter states.
Martinez agreed to work with prosecutors and medical experts at Primary Children's Hospital by giving them specific information about his crime so doctors and attorneys could use it in the prosecution of future shaken baby cases, according to McAdams’ letter.
“Mr. Martinez was very honest and forthcoming during the interviews,” McAdams wrote. The doctors “expressed that the information that they obtained from Mr. Martinez was very helpful in fighting their cause.”
On Dec. 3 — more than eight years after he was sentenced — Martinez had his first parole hearing.
But through a Spanish interpreter, Martinez said in a recording of his hearing that he was willing to accept the extra years in prison, even though he believed he would be released in five.
“I was able to handle this punishment and I accepted the punishment because of the crime I committed. I felt bad, but I had to submit myself to the laws of this country,” Martinez said.
Martinez, now 46, became emotional at times during the hearing as he recalled how he became overwhelmed trying to raise four children in his North Logan home.
“I pray everyday that society will forgive me, mostly my son. I took away the opportunity of someone to become something. That’s my worst punishment, everyday,” he said. “There’s no excuse for what I did.”
There's no excuse for what I did.
–Francisco Javier Martinez
While he has no contact anymore with his ex-wife, Martinez said he still writes regularly to his stepdaughters.
“I know that I failed them, But I love them like my own as well,” he said. “There’s not a letter where I don’t express my error and how much I love them.
“I love them with my whole heart, even though my crime gives the appearance that I don’t,” he continued.
It was noted during Martinez’s hearing that he has not had any disciplinary violations since being incarcerated. But he has had trouble getting into certain life skills classes required for most inmates before they are considered for release because of a language barrier.
“For one reason or another I can’t do more because they won’t let me,” he said.
Mr. Martinez was very honest and forthcoming during the interviews.
–Andrew McAdams, Cache County attorney
Whenever Martinez is released, he will be deported back to Mexico. He was deported once before, but illegally reentered the U.S. to raise a family, he said.
Board Chairwoman Carrie Cochran said she would recommend that Martinez be paroled in the near future. The full five-member board will now vote on whether to grant parole. If he serves his full time, Martinez’s sentence would expire in 2024.
“There’s no excuse for what I did,” Martinez said. “I truly don’t understand what happened to me. ... I also want an opportunity to show that I’m not that person.
“Unfortunately a life was lost because of my stupidity.”