Couple Accused Of Abusing Adopted 6-Year-Old Girl

Girl Has Weight Loss, Hair Loss, Developmental Delays, Officials Say

Two women have been charged with child abuse, accused of isolating an adoptive 6-year-old girl by locking her in her room and causing other physical injuries including a broken arm and broken fingers.

Regina Marquez, 35, and her girlfriend, Deanna Martinez, 36, are each charged with a felony count of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, the Denver District Attorney's Office said Tuesday.

Marquez is the girl's aunt and adopted the girl because the girl's biological mother could not care for her, police said.

Denver police were made aware of the case on March 30, when the girl's grandmother brought her to Denver Health. The woman said the girl hadn't been in school, walked oddly and did not talk as well as a 6-year-old should.

Doctors noted that the girl had several old fractures that are suspicious and had not healed well. The girl had a broken and now deformed arm and three of her fingers on her right hand had been broken.

As police investigated, they said they learned that the girl and her aunt had been referred to police in June 2009, when she was 4 years old and living with her aunt.

The girl was checked out at Denver Health in 2009 because she was losing hair and losing weight despite statements from Marquez that she was eating well, authorities said. She also had a broken arm, a bruise on her eye, and other developmental delays, according to an affidavit.

The case was transferred to the Department of Human Services, which then referred the case to police.

Marquez explained to officers that the girl broke her arm when she fell down the stairs while holding a box of Legos, police said.

Doctors at Children's Hospital believed that the child's hair loss was medical in nature and because her left arm was being treated and healing, they didn't express any concern about it in 2009, the affidavit said.

No doctor, police officer or social worker ever examined the girl's hand or fingers, which at the time were broken, but only appeared a little scraped up, according to the affidavit.

No charges were filed in 2009 and DHS didn't do anything else with the family.

In October 2009, the adoption was finalized. Marquez had adopted the girl and her 2-year-old brother.

The children live with Marquez and her girlfriend at South Knox Court, where officers interviewed her again on March 31.

Marquez said she works seven days a week and Martinez is unemployed so she stays at home with the children.

Marquez admitted she does feel overwhelmed with caring for the girl because she often cries for her mother. She said the 6-year-old girl, who should be completing first grade, wasn't going to school because she wasn't toilet trained.

When officers interviewed Martinez, she said she suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and depression, all of which are being treated by medications and therapy, according to the affidavit.

Martinez said the girl does cry a lot but the boy was more "engaging" so once he was old enough to play with, she began to ignore the girl. She said she would maybe spend 40-60 minutes a day with the girl.

Martinez denies hurting the girl, locking the girl up or denying food. She said the hand break was an accident. She said she accidentally slammed the girl's hand in a door and the girl broke her arm by falling off a two-step stair. Both women said they didn't see a doctor for the girl's hand because it was just swollen and never sought follow-up care for the girl's arm, according to the affidavit.

Officers executing a search warrant found two bedrooms in the home on South Knox Court. One was the boy's room with toys, a television and a toddler bed, and the other bedroom belonged to the women.

There was also a "back bedroom" that appeared to be used as a storage room. There was a futon with chairs stacked on it, a queen size bed, miscellaneous items but no toys. The only way into this back bedroom is through a door in the women's bedroom, but the door could only be opened about 12-18 inches because it was blocked by the women's bed, according to the affidavit.

When the girl was interviewed by a staffer with Denver Children's Advocacy Center, she called the women by their last names. She said she would be locked in the bedroom for long periods of time and when the women went anywhere, they left her home alone, police said. She said she "would potty in her pants" if she needed to use the restroom, according to the affidavit.

An officer noted that the girl was stumbling as if having difficulty walking, and unable to say more than a few words at a time. A doctor said that the girl appeared to be both physically and mentally deprived.

When the girl was 2, she was at 75th percentile for her height but had fallen to below 3 percent now that she was 6 years old. Her weight was at 50 percent, even though it was near 90 percent when she was 3 years old, the affidavit said.

Marquez and Martinez remain in custody in the Denver County Jail. Bond is set at $50,000 each. They are scheduled to appear in Denver County Courtroom 2100 on Aug. 4.

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