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Nine-month-old dies following alleged child abuse

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 3:29 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - A Laredo couple has been arrested after allegedly abusing a child.

Carlos Alejandro Tello (left) and Justina Martinez (right) charged with injury to a child and...
Carlos Alejandro Tello (left) and Justina Martinez (right) charged with injury to a child and injury to a child criminal negligence.(KGNS)

According to court documents obtained by KGNS, the Laredo Police Department were dispatched to a call on Monday, April 18, 2022, to the Laredo Medical Center (LMC) for an “injured child case.” When they arrived, the investigator spoke to the child’s father identified as Carlos Alejandro Tello.

Tello said he and his wife, identified as Justina Martinez, had taken their 9-month-old baby to a doctor in Nuevo Laredo after he experienced stomach problems. Tello claimed the child was fine the day before, Sunday, April 17th. Tello then told police the Nuevo Laredo medical staff prescribed “suppositories” to the child to help with his constipation.

Tello told investigators that once they arrived home, the child had become “unresponsive” and was having “trouble breathing.” Tello claims Martinez and him made their way to a fire station by Cielito Liendo, where first responders took the child to LMC. When officers spoke to Martinez, she told police the baby had trouble eating and tried giving him rice water.

However, when examining the child’s stomach, police saw it was bloated and bruises were visible to the torso and child’s back. Other injuries visible were on the baby’s forehead, chin, thighs, and trauma to child’s private back side. The child’s injuries were also internal and included rib fractures and fluid leakage that was causing the swelling to the baby’s belly.

When investigators spoke to both Tello and Martinez, they reiterated their initial statements. However, Tello told police the injuries to the child were because 3 or 4 days prior, the child had allegedly “fallen out of his crib” at night. When asked if they had sought medical attention for the baby’s injuries, Tello and Martinez said no. Tello claimed the crib was no longer at their home and was thrown away.

Justina Martinez told police she had contracted COVID-19 in 2021 around the time the child was born. Martinez claimed she suffers from “weakness” and “shortness of breath” due to the contracting the virus. When questioned about the injuries to the child’s thighs, Martinez says she fell with the child in her arms 4 to 5 months ago. Martinez told investigators the child’s thigh had swollen but was “fine” two days later. She also reiterated Tello’s statement on the child falling from the crib a few days prior to April 18th.

Due to the severity of the child’s injuries, preparations were under way to airlift the child to San Antonio Methodist Children’s Hospital. However, the child had passed away at LMC. Both Tello and Martinez denied any physical abuse had occurred to the child.

The next day, Tuesday, April 19th, the medical examiner conducted the autopsy. The results showed a “displaced fracture on left femur, rib fractures, torn mesentery.”

That same day, the child’s sibling was interviewed by the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) and said he had not witnessed any abuse.

Through the course of the investigation police found that on November 24th, 2021 they were called to a home regarding injuries to a child. When they arrived, they were contacted by a woman who said her father, identified as Carlo Tello, was “injuring her baby brother.” The female started that “since her father (Tello) doesn’t want a baby, he usually hands him off to family members to care for days at a time.” A family member had taken pictures of the child who showed “red marks to his face.” She later told the officer this wasn’t the first time Tello had allegedly hurt the child.

On November 4, 2021, another incident was reported where she saw bruises on the child and had taken pictures of it. The officer conducted a welfare check at the home the baby lived, that’s when the child’s sister answered the door and asked if the officer was there because of her “brothers’ injuries.” After leaving the home, the officer contacted Child Protective Services (CPS) and the case was assigned to a CPS worker.

The woman who had contacted police about seeing her brother abused gave a voluntary statement to police. In it, it reads, that on October 9th and October 27th of 2021, the child had bruises on him; on November 4th of 2021, the child had bruises and scratches to his face. However, the female claimed her father said the injuries were caused by “my sister of 1 years, 6 months.”

On April 20, 2022 police reached back to the woman on clarifying what she witnessed. She told police Tello was holding the baby and “he hit him with a closed fist more than 10 times in the part of his belly.” Other incidents include Tello, allegedly throwing the child into the crib. The crib was retrieved by police and Martinez was again questioned about the injuries to her child’s thighs.

On April 27, 2022, the child’s sibling was again interviewed by CAC. He told officials he heard noises like Tello was hitting the child “super bad” and would get annoyed with the child when he cried. When asked about what Martinez knew, the child said his mom would question the bruises and his stepdad (Tello) would say an excuse.

Tello and Martinez are charged with injury to a child and injury to a child criminal negligence.

This investigation remains ongoing, the charges on both individuals may be enhanced once the official autopsy report by the medical examiner is released.

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