Baby Murder Suspect Megan Martzen Pleads Not Guilty

FRESNO, Calif.

19-year-old /*Megan Martzen*/ is charged with murder and assault of a child in the death of a 17-month-old girl. She's also almost seven months pregnant herself.

Martzen has been locked up at the Fresno County Jail since Tuesday night on a $2-million bail.

It usually takes months or even years for murder trials to work through the system, so her attorney will have to find another way to get her out in time to give birth.

Megan Martzen stood by her attorney in court Thursday, her green jumpsuit covering signs she is in her third trimester of pregnancy.

She's about two months from bringing a new life into the world at the same time she's accused of ending another life after 17-months.

/*Ella Van Leeuwen*/ had a fractured skull when she arrived at the coroner's office in Feb. 2009. An autopsy determined she died of blunt force trauma. But Martzen's attorney says his client wasn't capable of causing those injuries.

"She's always been very caring with children, very patient," said Jeff Hammerschmidt. "She's babysat for various families, including members of law enforcement who've entrusted their children to her so it seems completely out of character that she would ever even consider harming a child."

Martzen's family can't raise the $2-million bail right now. Her attorney says it's too much because she's not a flight risk.

"She and her husband started a family and she'll be having a baby soon, so that's not conduct you would expect of somebody who was a guilty state of mind," Hammerschmidt said.

Martzen stayed in town during a 14-month investigation and initially cooperated with investigators in Reedley. But police say she wouldn't answer any questions when they followed up.

Martzen has another hearing next month. Her attorney says he'll try to get her bail reduced then so she doesn't have her baby in jail.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.