Couple blames 'spirit' for toddler's injuries

HOUSTON Ivan Dejesus Martinez, 21, is charged with injury to a child and Erica Candice Mendoza, 21, is charged with injury to a child by omission. The victim in the case is Mendoza's two-year-old son.

According to court documents, on May 1 the victim was taken by ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he was found to have bruises throughout his body, including his face, head, back, penis, stomach and legs. Doctors said he also had several internal injuries, including a non-functioning kidney.

The boy's stepfather, Martinez, told police he found the boy lying on the floor unresponsive, and that a "spirit" in the house caused the child's injuries. Martinez, who watches the boy while his mother works, failed a polygraph test. He then reportedly admitted punching the boy when the child threw his breakfast on the floor.

Mendoza faces charges over her alleged failure to get medical treatment for her son after observing bruising and injuries. In court documents, it is stated that Mendoza told police she believed the injuries were caused by rough play with the boy's four-year-old sibling. She also stated he is clumsy and falls a lot. Additionally, Mendoza attempted to blame a "spirit" in the house for causing the injuries.

Police say the boy's injuries were life-threatening and if he had not been taken to the hospital he would have died.

Bail for both Martinez and Mendoza has been set at $20,000 for the felony charges.

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