A Chattanooga man who set off a statewide Amber Alert after walking away with a two-year-old girl after a traffic stop and keeping her all night has had his charges bound to the Grand Jury.
General Sessions Court Judge Lila Statom set bond for Matias Martinez at $171,500 after a preliminary hearing. He is charged with kidnapping and child neglect.
Patrol officer Andrew Standifer told of pulling over Martinez, Patricia Turner, and her granddaughter Octavia Shaw. Martinez and Ms. Turner were dating.
According to officer Standifer, Martinez’s vehicle had a “busted taillight,” and he wrote a citation for that offense. When he went to check on their background information, he noticed that Ms. Turner had a warrant in Collegedale. At that point, he began to search the vehicle. The officer found a handgun under Octavia Shaw’s seat
As officer Standifer searched the vehicle, Martinez was allowed to cross the street with Octavia Shaw so she could sit in the shade of a tree, rather than in the hot car on a 90-degree day. The circumstances around this event were the subject of much discussion within the courtroom.
Ms. Turner had called Octavia Shaw’s mother, Ava Cole, and she was on her way to pick up her daughter. According to Ms. Cole, she believed Martinez’s disappearance was due to a miscommunication. Martinez did not know that Ms. Cole was on her way when he left with Octavia Shaw.
Martinez even claimed in an earlier interview that he was told several times that he was “free to go.”
At some point during the search and Ms. Turner’s arrest, Martinez got out of sight of police. A corporal who was back up for the stop, had been briefly distracted by a question by Ms. Turner, and Martinez left the premises during this time.
By the time Ms. Cole arrived, Martinez was already gone, and police asked her if she wanted to press kidnapping charges and send out an Amber Alert. Ms. Cole said she was told that the only way the police would send out a search for her daughter was if she pressed kidnapping charges.
Ms. Cole and Ms. Turner both stressed the close relationship that Octavia Shaw and Martinez had. Both stated that Octavia Shaw had stayed with Ms. Turner and Martinez many times before that day, and that Octavia Shaw had been staying with the two of them for several days before the arrest.
Ms. Cole even said that Octavia Shaw consistently referred to Martinez as “Papa,” and that everyone considers him to be family.
Ms. Turner said she and Martinez had been dating for around 10 months before the incident, and that until the arrest, Ms. Cole also lived with them. With Martinez’s whereabouts unknown and an Amber Alert sent out, a massive search began. Fourteen hours after the search’s beginning, officers located Martinez a mile away at Boy Scout Road at seven in the morning the next day.
Deputy Christopher Walker, who helped make the arrest, described Octavia Shaw as “visibly screaming and crying.” He also noted that Martinez was very belligerent to the point where he was resisting arrest.
“All he kept telling me was, 'I’m walking with my granddaughter,’ ” said officer Walker, who also said Martinez kept repeating that he believed he had been free to go earlier the previous day.
Octavia Shaw, who was then sent to a hospital, was in rough condition. According to investigator Patrick Miller, “The child had sticks and debris in her hair, red rashes on her face and body, and five ticks were removed from her body." She quickly consumed a lot of food for a two-year old, he said.
The investigator had photo evidence of the child and her clothing both before and after the incident.
After Octavia Shaw was found, her mother was not immediately notified, it was stated. Ms. Cole later discovered that her right to custody over her child was possibly being taken away, something Ms. Cole is fighting.
Because Martinez was found near a heavily wooded area, it was surmised that he and the young child had spent the previous night in the woods near the road.
According to Martinez, he and Octavia Shaw had walked around the street, visited a restaurant, and gotten a ride from a friend.
Martinez’s attorney disputed the kidnapping charge, making the point that Martinez did not mean to cause Octavia Shaw any harm, as he had a nearly paternal relationship with her, and stated she believed it was a misunderstanding.
The prosecutor countered by stating that Martinez was so keen to leave that he had run out of his shoes (Martinez’ shoe had been found close to the traffic stop), and that they most likely spent the night in the woods.
The defense attorney also challenged the charge of child neglect by bringing up a litany of cases where children were forced to live in inhumane conditions for prolonged periods. The attorney believed it might match the lesser charge of attempt neglect.
The prosecutor countered by stating being out in the woods produced negative health effects.
Judge Statom dismissed both arguments by the defense, and also dismissed any and all testimony made by Patricia Turner. Judge Statom said she believed that if a person has meth in the car and a handgun under a child’s seat, their judgment cannot be trusted.
The judge said, “This is not (a) grandfather of the year,” as she stared at the defendant, “This is someone who did not want to be caught….I find there is probable cause for this case to be bound over to the Grand Jury.”