Preliminary hearing begins for babysitter accused of killing toddler
FRESNO — Testimony began in the preliminary hearing to determine whether 20-year-old Megan Martzen should stand trial for the murder of a 17-month-old girl.
Martzen, a resident of Reedley, has been accused of killing Ella Van Lleuwan while she was babysitting her in February 2009. Martzen was arrested a year after the toddler’s death, but has been out on bail since July.
When Reedley police responded to Martzen’s 911 call two years ago, they found Ella unconscious.
“(They found her) breathing heavily,” Reedley officer Mark Diedrich testified in the Fresno County courtroom.
He also testified that Ella had a large amount of bruising on her face and torso.
Ella was taken to the hospital but died three days later of a fractured skull. Martzen told police that Ella had fallen off of a bed about 30 inches high onto a carpeted floor.
In court documents, one doctor for the prosecution said that it would have been nearly impossible for Ella to sustain those types of injuries from a fall off the bed.
Defense attorney Jeff Hammerschmidt said that a fall from the bed could have caused Ella’s death and that investigators didn’t do their jobs properly. He said that some of Ella’s conditions may have been pre-existing, and investigators should have informed the coroner about them.
Martzen was pregnant when she was arrested earlier this year and gave birth to a baby boy four months ago. She has limited custody.
The judge will decide later this month whether Martzen’s case will go to trial.