Arizona man accused of killing son, 6, in exorcism attempt

Terry Tang
Associated Press

Phoenix – A 6-year-old boy died after his father forced him to swallow hot water from a bathtub as part of an attempted exorcism, federal officials said in court documents that accuse the father of first-degree murder.

The father, Pablo Martinez, told investigators that he was trying cast a demon out of the boy and also held the boy under water for between five and 10 minutes, according to the criminal complaint documents.

Martinez was arrested and detained following the Sept. 26 death at the family’s home on the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Reservation southwest of Tucson, the documents said. He was scheduled for a detention hearing Tuesday and his lawyer, Michael Areinoff, said he had no immediate comment about the case.

The documents did not list a cause of death for the boy, who was identified only by the initials G.B. But doctors said the boy suffered burns on his head, elbows and forearms.

When investigators arrived at the home, Martinez and the boy’s adoptive mother Romelia Martinez were outside and Pablo Martinez raised his hands in the air, saying “I did it,” the documents said.

Emergency workers found the boy naked on a bed, wrapped him in a towel and took him to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, the documents said.

Romelia Martinez told police and FBI investigators that her husband was bathing the boy and another child when she heard gurgling, went in the bathroom and saw the father holding the boy under the tub’s faucet.

She also told investigators she screamed at her husband to stop, called a pastor and 911 and that her husband tried to perform CPR on the boy and poured cold water on him, the documents said.

Pablo Martinez told authorities he had seen “a demon inside” the boy and was determined to get it out, the documents said.

Pablo Martinez is not an enrolled member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, but the boy and Romelia Martinez are.

Federal authorities investigate homicides on Native American reservations when suspects, victims or both are members of federally recognized tribes.