NORCROSS - A Norcross woman faces felony charges of murder and cruelty to children after her niece died from symptoms of shaken baby syndrome.
Alma-Leticia Sanchez-Martinez, 18, fled the country soon after investigators charged her in the death of 11-month-old Martiza Chavira-Quintero. The baby was transported to the Scottish Rite Hospital in January, where she died from her injuries four days later.
On Wednesday, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation brought Sanchez-Martinez back to Atlanta from where she was staying in Monterrey, Mexico, with her husband.
Sanchez-Martinez lived with the victim's family. She had apparently been baby-sitting her niece when the baby was hospitalized, according to Cpl. Darren Moloney, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department.
When she was charged, Sanchez-Martinez's own 13-month-old baby was removed from her custody. Neither she nor her husband, Apolonio Quintero, appeared at the custody hearing. Family members told authorities they were traveling to Texas or Mexico, Moloney said.
"Both her and her husband left their 13-month-old child behind," Moloney said. "Their parental rights have been terminated."
The FBI communicated with Mexican authorities and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help bring back Sanchez-Martinez. She was turned over to the Gwinnett County Police Department and is being held in the Gwinnett County Detention Center in Lawrenceville.
There were no charges taken out against her husband, but Sanchez-Martinez faces cruelty to children and murder felony charges.
"Unfortunately, we've had several child fatalities like this in this county. Felony murder is felony murder. It doesn't matter how old the victim happens to be," Moloney said.
Though he had not himself examined the baby's body, forensic investigator Ray Rawlins of the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner's Office identified some of the symptoms of shaken baby syndrome. He said only a person, not the child, would be able to cause that kind of death.
"What you have is a movement of the brain inside the skull, due to the force of shaking, and it causes injuries in whatever direction the child has been shaken. It causes hemorrhaging on those sides of the head," Rawlins said.
Because Sanchez-Martinez has lost custody of her son, he is now up for adoption. No bond has been set in the case.