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Child abuse includes physical, sexual, emotional and medical abuse, as well as neglect. Learn about signs, risk factors, how to get help. Wochit, Wochit

Doctor described abuse child sustained as torture

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FARMINGTON — A San Juan County couple has been arrested after a doctor described the injuries a four-year-old male sustained as one of the worst cases of child abuse she had ever seen.

Marissa Gutierrez and Jivona Sandoval, both 21, are accused of first-degree felony counts of child abuse, according to court records.

They are accused of abusing Gutierrez's child across a five-month period as the boy was starved, locked in closets and sustained injuries including a broken arm, brain bleed and spinal fractures, according to court documents.

Ronald Adamson, one of Sandoval's attorneys, declined comment.

"We're currently working on obtaining medical records and copies of statements taken by law enforcement," Mark Curnutt, Gutierrez's attorney, said. "And we'll know more after the preliminary examination."

Child Abuse Investigation

The San Juan County Sheriff's Office investigation was launched on May 4 when a detective was dispatched to San Juan Regional Medical Center.

The child was taken to the hospital after a relative forced the mother to do so. Gutierrez and the child had been living with Sandoval and her relatives at a residence north of Aztec.

The detective immediately observed the child appeared to be beaten and malnourished, with bruises all over his face along with a large welt on his forehead.

The child weighed about 33 pounds, in the very bottom of the growth chart for his age, according to court documents.

The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department launched an investigation and the child was placed into the home of a relative.

During the investigation, the child was taken to Albuquerque for a CYFD exam, then was admitted to the University of New Mexico Hospital due to his injuries and an irregular heartbeat.

The child told CYFD he would be "punished" regularly and would be locked in closets for extended portions of time.

Doctor's report

The report from the Albuquerque doctor states the child had so many injuries that it was overwhelming.

"The involvement of multiple physically injured body systems, the chronic and repetitive nature of injury, emotional abuse and multiple forms of neglect constitute child torture," according to the affidavit.

Some of his injuries included a brain bleed, a  broken arm and spinal fractures.

The doctor noted the child appeared to have been repeatedly battered over time, including abusive head trauma, and was "significantly malnourished," which indicated that food has been withheld from the child, according to court documents.

Gutierrez claimed the numerous cuts found on the child were self-harm and that the boy broke his arm while bathing, according to court documents.

When the doctor spoke to the mother and said that her child had sustained abusive behavior, Gutierrez allegedly became volatile and voiced frustration that no one believed what she was saying.

Gutierrez is accused of waiting four days to take the child to the hospital after his arm was broken.

The child also stated his mother was present when alleged incidents occurred with Sandoval.

Court proceedings

Gutierrez's preliminary hearing is set for July 11 in Aztec Magistrate Court. Sandoval's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 26 in Aztec Magistrate Court.

Sandoval was released from the San Juan County Adult Detention Center per a court order. Gutierrez is being held at the county jail on a $25,000 cash at 10 percent bond.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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