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Couple gets life in child's beating death

Wife asks judge to let husband go

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

JONESBORO — A woman convicted with her husband of killing their toddler daughter begged a Clayton County Superior Court judge to let him go, saying he is a good man.

Margarita Gomez, 27, and Alejandro Martinez Huitron, 31, were convicted Friday in the May 2010 beating death of their daughter, Esmerelda Gomez, 3. Huitron was sentenced to life without parole plus 50 years and told Judge Albert Collier he had nothing to say. He returned to jail.

Collier then asked Gomez if she wanted to make a statement and she did, through an interpreter.

"He's a good father," said Gomez. "My husband is a good man. I loved my daughter and wouldn't have permitted anyone to harm her. Please let him go."

Collier sentenced Gomez to life without parole plus 50 years plus 24 months.

Clayton Executive Assistant District Attorney Lalaine Briones asked Collier to impose the maximum sentence for each.

"For the three years of her life, this victim, Esmerelda Gomez, had absolutely no joy in that life," said Briones. "The defendants, who were supposed to be her parents, failed miserably in their duties not just to provide basic needs but nurturing. They referred to her as 'that girl' and told her she was ugly. They constantly degraded her."

Briones said neither parent should experience joy.

"They should have no joy in their lives, just as she had no happiness," she said.

Briones asked for life plus 110 years for Huitron and life plus 120 years plus 24 months for Gomez, both sentences to be served consecutively.

The child was taken to Hughes Spalding Hospital in May 2010 with extensive injuries. Doctors said she showed symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

When police investigated the child's death, they found the couple had twice tried to give away their son, Joseph, who was 10 months old. Witnesses told police the daughter stayed locked alone in a closet for hours and was unhappy. Both children wore long-sleeved shirts and pants year-round.

Gomez told Collier during sentencing that there were no witnesses to the abuse.

"They don't have proof," she said. "No witnesses saw what happened. Please, Mr. Judge, give us a new opportunity to listen to us. I want a new court and to give my testimony. If you want someone here for an entire life, here I am."

Collier told the couple they have the right to appeal the conviction.