Sunday, May 12, 2013

Megan Martzen: The story behind her guilty plea and the string of accidents that led to the toddler's death as exclusively told to the Sacramento Bee.

STORY: "Bee exclusive: "Babysitter Megan Martzen took plea bargain to regain family," by reporter Marc Benjamin, published by the Sacramento Bee on March 9, 2013.

GIST: "Megan Martzen wanted to fight, wanted to prove to a jury that she was innocent in the death of toddler Ella VanLeeuwen. But logic ultimately convinced her to settle her case. In an exclusive interview with The Fresno Bee this week, Martzen, 23, said her decision to take the district attorney's plea deal for involuntary manslaughter was difficult. But after meeting with her lawyer, Jeff Hammerschmidt, and her mother, April Roque, she decided it was the best one for her and her family.........Martzen continues to say that she would never have done anything to hurt Ella and that she misses caring for both her and her older brother, John.Hammerschmidt said that the scientific evidence proved to the jury that Ella's fall was one in a string of accidents -- at least one occurring at the VanLeeuwens' home. Martzen hopes that someday the VanLeeuwens will allow someone to review with them the evidence that proves Ella's death resulted from a series of accidents. "My heart hurts that they were led to believe anything other than" accidents led to her death, Martzen said......... Along with focusing on getting custody of her son, Martzen wants to start talking to babysitters and children's caretakers about team babysitting. If a second person had been with Martzen to corroborate Ella's fall from the bed, the investigation probably would not have focused on her. Testimony during the trial revealed that prior bruising to Ella was caused by at least one previous accident in her family's home. Having to endure the death of a child in her care wasn't something that Martzen thought could ever happen to her. "I think girls are very apt to have that motherly instinct, and for them it's an easy job and one of the jobs you get asked to do right away," she said. "But you don't think of all the repercussions it can have, like Ella falling off the bed.""

The entire story can be found at:

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