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Trial date set for family of Arizona boy starved to death

February 27, 2021 GMT

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A trial date has been set for the parents and grandmother of a 6-year-old Flagstaff boy who died after being locked in a closet and denied food.

Elizabeth Archibeque and Anthony Martinez, the boy’s parents, and Ann Martinez, his grandmother, have pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and child abuse.

Anthony Martinez also is charged with two counts of aggravated assault.

The defendants are scheduled to go on trial in August 2022. Coconino County Superior Court Judge Ted Reed set the date during a hearing in the case Friday.

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Michael Tunink will prosecute the case after Deputy County Attorney Stacy Krueger was appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey to fill a judicial vacancy at the court.

A medical examiner determined Deshaun Martinez died last March of starvation, weighing just 18 pounds (8.1 kilograms) — well below average for his age.

His parents initially attributed their son’s malnourished state to a medical condition and to ingesting diet or caffeine pills. Eventually, they told police they kept Deshaun and his older brother in a closet for 16 hours a day and gave them little to eat.

Police said the boys’ confinement was punishment for stealing food while the parents slept.