I-Team: Parents of starved 5-month-old could face death penalty

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Hannibal Oceja only weighed five pounds at 5-months-old. Investigators say his parents starved him. 

As the 8 News NOW I-Team learned, the boy starved to death even though his parents had a refrigerator full of food.

It doesn’t happen often that jurors make outbursts in court. But when the grand jury considered charges against two Las Vegas parents and saw the photos of the child, a juror yelled, “Oh my God.” 

Reporter Vanessa Murphy: “Have you ever seen anything like that happen?”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Kristina Rhoades: “I have not. No.” 

The average weight for a 5-month-old boy is closer to 15 pounds. Loreana Martinez and Anthony Oceja are now accused of murder.

READ: Arrest report

On Wednesday, Chief Deputy District Attorneys Dave Stanton and Kristina Rhoades revealed they are pushing for the death penalty. They point to torture. They say, the child died from hunger.

“Everyday leading up to the death, there was pain and suffering,” Rhoades said.

READ: Intent to seek death penalty

On Feb. 25, the mother called 9-1-1 after Hannibal was unresponsive. A doctor testified the baby was so dehydrated, it was too difficult to put an IV in his vein. The needle had to go directly into his bones instead. But the child could not be saved.

Investigators took photos of the messy home, a kitchen with food – both on the stove and in the fridge, and two other children described as socially delayed.

According to records, a daughter who a pediatrician previously noted as emaciated and diagnosed her with failure to thrive. Investigators say a son was also malnourished and dehydrated.

It turns out, there were also warning signs about baby Hannibal. Records show that during a visit to the pediatrician, Dr. Shazia Kirmani expressed concern about his weight and noted the mother was uncooperative with her medical recommendations. And after that, Martinez was a no show to three follow-up appointments.

It appears Dr. Kirmani, who by law must report suspected child abuse or neglect, did not contact Child Protective Services.

Two months after that appointment which another pediatrician testified was a “major, major problem, major red flag,” baby Hannibal died.

The I-Team reached out to Dr. Kirmani for a statement and received no comment.

Loreana Martinez and Anthony Oceja are charged with murder, child abuse and animal cruelty. Metro police say they found four dogs in their home also in poor health from not being fed enough. There were bottles, a breast pump, and food in the house for both the family and the pets and no other health issues identified for Hannibal so why was the baby boy skin and bones?

“I don’t know that we have the answer and I don’t know if the criminal trial is going to ever answer that,  but that is going to be a significant aspect of this case,” Stanton said.

According to transcripts, Martinez told detectives she suffered from postpartum depression after her first child, took medicine for less than a week and stopped. It is unclear what role that could play in the case.

“They never opened the door,” said neighbor Margie Pena. 

she says she didn’t see the family much, but she remembers a haunting image of the mother pushing baby Hannibal in a stroller and how skinny he was.

“You could see the veins.”

Rhoades points to the missed opportunities to help try to protect baby Hannibal.

“I mean there was a five month period where family members could have seen this child and could have intervened and something could have happened.” 

“This case can and should be a very big learning lesson to the citizens and to the government officials of Clark County,” Stanton said.

Because Stanton says no child should starve to death.

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