Man pleads guilty to child abuse in Wallace case

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- A high-profile case of child abuse is nearing its close.

Jessie Martinez pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury in the case of Elijah Wallace, who was four-years-old when he was taken to the hospital on Jan. 13 for severe head trauma and a broken right arm.

Martinez entered the plea during what was supposed to be a review hearing at the Mesa County Judicial Center Thursday morning.

When lawyers advised that Martinez was ready to announce his plea, Judge Valerie Robison set aside time to hear it.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop one count of felony child abuse and one count of misdemeanor child abuse against the defendant.

The charge that Martinez admitted to is a class 3 felony, and he faces between 15 and 17 years in prison, plus five years parole, at his sentencing on July 26.

On April 8, Elijah's mother and Martinez' former girlfriend, Ashleigh, pleaded guilty to child abuse and attempting to influence a public servant in her son's case.

Ashleigh's arrest affidavit says that she took Elijah to the hospital on Jan. 13, two days after he was injured.

The boy nearly died from his wounds, and doctors say it would have been a "significantly salvageable situation" if he had been taken to the hospital right away.

Now, Elijah is now living in a foster home in Montrose as he heals. According to Facebook page "Hope for Elijah Wallace," he will return to Denver Children's Hospital around July to have his skull flap replaced.

Tonight at KKCO 11 News at 5:30 p.m., we will have an interview with Martinez' girlfriend and the mother of two of his children.

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