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Charged N.J. Baby Sitter Appears in Court

March 28, 2005

SOMERVILLE, N.J. (AP) _ A baby sitter who prosecutors said took off with a 5-month-old in her care made her first court appearance Monday, shaking her head no as she was accused of trying to keep the boy from his parents.

Ana Marie Martinez, 52, was arrested Sunday morning, almost 24 hours after she disappeared with the infant from his Bridgewater home. She was charged with kidnapping and held in lieu of $30,000 cash bail.

Martinez, a citizen of El Salvador, asked for her consulate to be contacted.

She had been a regular baby sitter for the boy’s parents, Doris Leon, 26, and Miguel Mejia, 25, prosecutors said, and allegedly befriended the then-expectant couple soon after miscarrying a child of her own in October.

Martinez concealed the miscarriage from her boyfriend and used photos she had taken during her baby sitting visits to pass off the couple’s son as her own, Forrest said.

The infant’s parents hired Martinez to watch the boy in their home in Bridgewater while they went shopping Saturday. She and the child were not there when the couple returned, and they assumed Martinez had taken the child with her while she ran an errand.

The parents called police when Martinez failed to return by late afternoon. Witnesses said she had left the home that morning with a man who turned out to be her boyfriend, Mario Tejeda-Hernandez, 27.

On Sunday, Hernandez realized he’d been deceived and called the boy’s parents, Forrest said.

The baby was returned to his parents in good condition, prosecutors said.

Martinez could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of kidnapping.

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