View Mobile Site

Fugitive in toddler’s death 4 years ago arrested in Mexico

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED September 26, 2012 1:12 a.m.

LATHROP – The crime happened more than four years ago. The dead victim was a child barely 13 months old named Jacob Leon. The suspect was Mario Martinez Pena, who was 25 at the time the alleged crime was committed in the 800 block of O Street in Lathrop.

Pena was arrested but was released on bail. Then he disappeared and became a wanted fugitive.

His days of hiding ended on September 14 when he was discovered in Mexico living with relatives. The U.S. Marshall’s Office arrested him in Mexico then transported him back to the United States via the San Francisco Airport where he was turned over to San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Detectives.

He was transported into the San Joaquin County Jail and is awaiting sentencing.

Rewind to Oct. 27, 2009. That day, the Sheriff’s Office received a report from Pena’s girlfriend that Pena had left the residence but that his whereabouts was unknown. She also told deputies that she found a suicide note that Pena had left behind. In the note, he stated that “his body would never be found and the Sheriff’s Office should not look for him,” according to the police report.

On the day Pena disappeared, a jury trial began over the death of young Jacob Leon. Pena was found guilty in absentia and received a “25 years to life” sentence. Immediately, a warrant for his arrest was issued.

The story about what happened to young Jacob Leon began when medical personnel received a call on Feb. 4, 2008 about a report involving an injured child in the 800 block of O Street in Lathrop. According to the story given by Pena to Lathrop Police Services, he had been giving Jacob a bath when he had to go to another room to answer the phone. Pena then told police that he “heard a noise that sounded like Jacob had fallen down.” He indicated to police that he left the child standing when he went to pick up the phone.

He later related to police that when he “ran back into the bathroom,” the child was lying on his back in the bathtub. He also said he picked up the child and tried to revive him by rubbing young Jacob’s stomach. He continued his story by saying he put a diaper on the child, dressed him and then “called out to his mother and father.” He told police he then went to pick up his girlfriend but that when he returned the ambulance was at the house and was taking Jacob to the hospital.

From the local hospital, young Jacob was transported by Medi-flight to Oakland Children’s Hospital. It was later determined that the 13-month-old’s injuries were “consistent with a violent physical assault” which was determined as the cause of death.

Pena was arrested but was allowed out on bail.

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...