Original article no longer available
Des Moines Register
Jan 15, 2002
By JEFF ECKHOFF and MADELAINE JEROUSEK Register Staff Writer
Authorities are investigating whether 3-year-old York Martin was sexually abused on the night he was beaten and strangled. Documents filed with a search warrant for the family’s West Des Moines home say investigators collected samples from the toddler’s body. County Medical Examiner Francis Garrity said authorities are awaiting results from the state crime lab of tests comparing material swabbed from the boy’s body to fluid in a used condom found in an upstairs bathroom at 2601 Crown Flair Drive. Garrity would not say whether the boy suffered injuries consistent with sexual abuse. Christopher Martin, 37, the child’s father, has been jailed since Wednesday on a charge of first- degree murder. Court papers say Martin’s wife, Karla, told a detective that her husband had asked other officers to take him to a hospital or take him to jail. The documents say York, who had gone to bed with his father at around 9 p.m. Tuesday, was found cold and stiff at around 4 the next morning. Police found blood on the bed and blood spattered on the headboard. According to court papers, Karla Martin and the couple’s two children had returned from Florida on Tuesday evening. Karla Martin went to sleep in one bedroom with the couple’s 4-year-old daughter, Daly, while York and Christopher Martin slept in another bed. Karla Martin told investigators that York was fine before bedtime. She said her husband, who is legally blind, woke her at around 4 a.m. saying he couldn’t find York. They called police at 4:15 a.m. Christopher Martin’s voice on the minute-long 911 tape, released Monday by West Des Moines police, is quiet and shaky as he tells the dispatcher that his son is unconscious. “Can you check to see if he’s breathing . . . ?” the dispatcher asks. Christopher Martin’s response is incomprehensible. “He’s not? Let me send an ambulance, OK? You said 2601 Crown Flair?” the dispatcher asks.
A sobbing Martin says he’ll wait out front. Documents show police conducted two searches of the Martin home, seizing clothing, shoes and jewelry, among other things, in an attempt to determine what caused indentations on the boy’s face and shoulder. Police have taken photos of a hand injury that Christopher Martin said he sustained while trying to remove broken glass from the garbage disposal, and they have searched sink traps for blood. Among the other items seized: * A carpet sample from the upstairs bedroom. According to court papers, police intend to compare it with a stain on the T-shirt Christopher Martin was wearing “to determine whether York may have spilled or urinated on the floor and/or the defendant in his bedroom.” * The used condom, found in the trash can of an upstairs bathroom, and a still-packaged condom found on a dresser in the room where York was found. * Medicine bottles for Christopher Martin, apparently containing anti-depressants.