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Albuquerque girl's death brings back memories of Baby Brianna

Brianna Lopez was just 5 months old when she was sexually assaulted, beaten, bitten, burned and strangled at the hands of her mother, father and uncle.

The New Mexico community was shaken once again after news broke of a 10-year-old’s violent death. Albuquerque police say Victoria Martens was drugged, sexually assaulted, strangled and stabbed on Wednesday before she was dismembered and wrapped in a blanket that was set on fire.

Three people have been charged in her murder, Victoria’s mother Michelle Martens, her mother’s boyfriend Fabian Gonzales and his cousin Jessica Kelley.

For Las Cruces residents, the tragedy has reopened old wounds.

“It was so reminiscent of baby Brianna,” said Orlando-Antonio Jimenez, an organizer with the baby Brianna memorial.

Brianna Lopez was just 5 months old when she was sexually assaulted, beaten, bitten, burned and strangled at the hands of her mother, father and uncle.

“It's in comprehensible I don't understand it I don't think I ever will,” Jimenez said. “I thought to myself how? She's innocent. How could somebody do this to a child who probably just came home from school and had a bowl of cereal and then that happened to her? What kind of horrific life that she led up until then?”

Jimenez said he will make sure neither baby Brianna nor Victoria Martens are forgotten. But, he knows there are many more cases of child abuse out in the community that go unreported because the child hasn’t died.

“It happens daily throughout New Mexico and maybe not daily throughout Doña Ana County but it definitely happens often too often,” Jimenez said. “We have to be their voice for them.”

He believes more needs to be done by the community to make sure another child isn’t lost in such a horrific way. But Jimenez isn’t the only one who is fighting for an end to domestic violence.

At La Casa in Las Cruces, volunteers held a meeting Thursday to discuss an annual vigil they hold in honor of domestic violence victims.

“It's important for people to learn about domestic violence because it's something that affects everyone,” said Sara Armijo, the resource development director at La Casa. “Domestic violence and abuse has no boundaries it was not discriminatory can affect men women and children of all ages and demographics.”

Armijo says Doña Ana County has the second highest number of reported cases of domestic violence in the state.

“We probably give our services to around 2,000 people a year which is only a fraction of the actual number of people living in violence,” Armijo said.

This year’s vigil is set for Oct. 20 at the Civic Plaza in Las Cruces.


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