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Yuma man arrested in death of 21-month-old
A local man suspected of abusing and murdering a 21-month-old girl last week made his initial Justice Court appearance Saturday.
The suspect, 29-year-old Victor Noriega, is currently jailed in the Yuma County Adult Detention Center.
At 8:40 a.m. on Monday, the Yuma police and fire departments responded to 511 E. Country Club Drive in reference to a nonresponsive child.
They found Danielle Martinez, a 21-month-old girl, 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.
On Saturday, Noriega appeared before Judge Pro Tem James D. Montgomery, who listed the felony charges 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.”
A side room of the weekend courtroom, which has a glass partition to separate prisoners from visitors, was packed with friends and family, including the victim's mother. She was so emotionally distraught over seeing the suspect and hearing the autopsy results that she had to be physically carried out of the courtroom by friends and family members.
Due to the serious nature of the alleged crime, the judge gave Noriega a no-bond status that prevents him from posting bail and leaving jail. Noriega is scheduled to appear again in Yuma Justice Court at 1 p.m. Tuesday to find out whether the county attorney will officially file charges.
YPD encourages anyone with information about this incident to call Detective Esmundo Tejeda at 373-4700, or 78-CRIME to remain anonymous.