A mother has pleaded guilty to murder and child abuse over the death of her six-year-old son in Arizona.
Elizabeth Archibeque, 26, reached a plea deal with prosecutors this month and could face life in prison under the first-degree murder charge.
Her son, Deshaun Martinez, had been locked inside a small bedroom closet without food until he died in March 2020, reported the Arizona Daily Sun.
A post-mortem found the child starved to death.
When he died, he weighed just 18lbs (8.1kg) – which is well below average for his age.
The boy had a “skeletal appearance” because he had almost no fat on his body.
Archibeque was charged along with the boy’s father, Anthony Martinez, and his grandmother, Ann Martinez. The cases were being tried separately.
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The boy’s parents initially put their son’s malnourished state down to a medical condition and to taking diet or caffeine pills.
Eventually, they told police they kept Deshaun and his older brother in a closet in their Flagstaff apartment for 16 hours a day and gave them little to eat. The brother survived.
Police said the youngsters were confined there as punishment for stealing food while the parents slept.
The adults told officers that Deshaun had been in the closet for “about a month”.
Both Anthony Martinez and Ann Martinez reportedly have previously pleaded not guilty.
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According to the terms of the plea agreement, Archibeque will not be eligible for probation.
She will be sentenced in the coming weeks.
If she gets life, she will not be eligible for any kind of parole.