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Yuma man charged in death of 21-month-old
A Yuma man has been charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend's 21-month-old daughter.
In addition to first-degree murder in the death of Danielle Martinez, 29-year-old Victor Noriega was charged with four counts of aggravated assault and one count of child abuse. All of the charges were per domestic violence statutes.
Noriega was arraigned in Yuma Justice Court before Justice of the Peace pro tem Yolanda Torok, who ordered that he remain held without bond, which had been set at a previous hearing.
Before setting the bond, Torok asked prosecutor Karolyn Kaczorowski, of the Yuma County Attorney's Office, if she wanted to address the court regarding the case. Kaczorowski, however, said she wasn't planning on doing so unless the court decided to change the bond amount.
A no-bond status prevents the defendant from posting bail and leaving jail.
Noriega, who wore orange jail clothes, listened as Torok read aloud the six charges contained in the criminal complaint that had been filed against him. He showed no emotion, and only spoke once during the brief court hearing, saying that he wanted the court to appoint a public defender to represent him.
Once again the courtroom was packed with family and friends, who took up all the seating on one side of the courtroom. Among them was Martinez's mother. A victim's representative from Amberly's Place spoke on behalf of the family, asking the judge to continue holding Noriega on no bond.
His next court appearance will be for a preliminary hearing, which the judge set for 4 p.m. on June 14.
On May 30, at 8:40 a.m., the Yuma police and fire departments responded to 511 E. Country Club Drive in reference to a nonresponsive child.
They found Martinez not breathing and without a pulse. She was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center and pronounced dead, police reported.
The mother, 22-year-old Sonia Sepulveda, was not at home. Noriega, her boyfriend, was the only person with the victim at the time of the incident, police reported.
An initial police investigation revealed the girl had suffered significant internal trauma that day, in addition to serious injuries in the past consistent with continuous child abuse.
Noriega was arrested Friday and booked into the county jail, where he remains in custody.
On Saturday, Noriega appeared before Judge Pro Tem James D. Montgomery, who listed the felony charges against him as one count of first-degree murder and another of child abuse.
Reading from court records, the judge said, “The autopsy shows the baby's spine was severed — broken lower spine — total separation.”
YPD encourages anyone with information about this incident to call Det. Esmundo Tejeda at 373-4700, or 78-CRIME to remain anonymous.