An arrest warrant issued for a 30-year-old Modesto man charged in the death of his girlfriend’s son last year — and who is suspected of killing her and four other people last weekend — details what authorities believe happened before Christopher Ripley died.
Among the allegations: day care workers documented previous injuries sustained by the child while he was under the care of Martin Martinez.
Those injuries were detailed in a Ramey warrant issued for the arrest of Martinez, 30, who was found leaving a movie in San Jose with his father about nine hours after five people were found dead inside a home on Nob Hill Court in east Modesto.
The victims were identified as Martinez’s girlfriend Amanda Crews and their 6-month-old daughter Rachael, as well as Crews’ 6-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Martinez’s mother, Anna Brown Romero, and his niece, whose name was not available, were also killed.
Martinez is the only suspect in their killings but has not been charged. He remains incarcerated, however, for the death of 2-year-old Christopher, who sustained a head injury Sept. 30 and died two days later.
The daycare Christopher attended reported he suffered three suspicious injuries around the time the boy began potty training, according to the warrant.
Crews denied Martinez caused the injuries but acknowledged that he was present during two of them.
The most recent injury to Christopher prior to his death consisted of a “through and through puncture wound to the lower lip by a tooth,” reads the warrant.
Crews admitted to investigators that she did not witness the incident but said Christopher tripped just after using the bathroom when his pants were still around his ankles.
Martinez was alone with Christopher when he sustained his fatal head injury in September. Martinez’s story about how Christopher was injured changed several times during the course of the investigation, authorities said.
Martinez told an investigator he was “wrestling” with Christopher after he used the toilet. Martinez said, when he picked Christopher up by the legs and the boy fell backward about three feet, hitting his head on the carpet, according to the warrant.
He told the 911 dispatcher Christopher fell because he “tripped” or “swept” his legs while they were wrestling.
Crews said to investigators that Martinez told her he was “catching” Christopher at the knees and Christopher was laughing. He did it several times until the last when the boy arched his back and fell.
Several other versions of that story were documented in the warrant.
On Thursday, two days before the five bodies were discovered on Nob Hill Court, detectives received verbal notification from a medical expert that she ruled Christopher’s death a homicide.
The expert reported that the “method of death was consistent with Christopher’s head hitting the tile floor as a result of abuse,” reads the warrant.
A Ramey warrant was drafted by investigators following the discovery of the bodies on Nob Hill Court.
A Ramey warrant bypasses prosecutors and goes directly to a judge, as opposed to a standard arrest warrant which is signed by the district attorney’s office and is accompanied by charges.
Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll said the case against Martinez in the death of Christopher was nearing its completion and an arrest warrant had been written but not signed. The coroner needed to write final report with the expert’s findings.
Martinez would have been arrested in a couple of weeks, Carroll said.
“We jumped this case up based on the verbal notification because we thought it was imperative to get a hold of Mr. Martinez while we complete the investigation in this larger more complex murder,” he said. “There was enough probable cause to go ahead with the arrest.”
If there was enough probable cause to arrest Saturday night, there was enough probable cause to arrest 10 hours earlier and those people would still be alive.
Homicide suspects are usually arrested ASAP when there is probable cause.
And the reasons for that are glaringly obvious..