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Accused baby murderer likely to give birth in the Fresno County jail

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's looking more like an accused murderer will give birth in jail. Megan Martzen is charged with killing a 17-month-old girl she was babysitting.

A green prison jumpsuit disguises Martzen's pregnancy, but at almost seven months, she's reaching a critical time, just as she stands accused of murder.

Her attorney says the unborn boy's health is at risk as long as his mother is in jail. "She is losing weight instead of gaining weight," said Jeff Hammerschmidt. "She's lost 6 1/2 pounds in the jail. We made a request more than a week ago for the jail staff to see her and she still has not been seen by a physician."

But prosecutors argue Martzen had no regard for the health of 17-month-old Ella van Leeuwen. They believe the babysitter intentionally harmed the baby then tried to cover up.

Megan Martzen claimed the girl fell off a bed. But newly released court documents show a doctor describing that as nearly impossible.

Dr. Samuel Lehman is quoted as saying said the injuries made it look more like the girl was in "a traffic collision at 60 miles per hour, without a seatbelt and with an ejection from the vehicle, and further that the victim suffered a post-ejection impact with a brick wall."

A judge refused to reduce her bail from $2 million, despite possible complications with her pregnancy.

"Her reaction was obvious," said Hammerschmidt. "She was crying and distraught and she's very concerned for her unborn baby."

Martzen's health and her tears may not have won over the judge, but a lot of people are in her corner. Her family and friends set up the website supportmegan.com and they've already raised more than $20,000 to help with her defense. That's not enough to bail her out of jail before she gives birth. But it is enough to hire expert witnesses and investigators to fight to get her out of jail in time to be a mother.

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Tags:
fresno, court, crimetracker, murder, reedley, fresno county, local, corin hoggard
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