PORT ANGELES — A Forks resident and Quileute tribal member who had pleaded guilty to homicide by abuse in the death of a 2½-year-old family member she was caring for was sentenced Monday to the maximum 26½ years in prison.
Clallam County Superior Court Judge Christopher Melly said Ramona Jean Ward, 46, inflicted too many injuries on baby Isaac Ward Martinez over a period of time for Melly to consider Martinez’s Nov. 11, 2016 death “a one-off event” that warranted a lesser sentence.
“We are talking a massive explosion here,” Melly said, noting that Isaac suffered head-to-toe injuries both new and healing at the time of his death.
They included blunt force trauma to the head that was determined by autopsy to be the cause of death as well as eye, shoulder and leg injuries and bodywide lacerations.
“Some appeared to be caused by implements,” Melly said.
A medical report indicated ligature marks were on the boy’s legs and that it was as though a Taser or cattle prod were used on the child.
A Child Protection Team doctor at Seattle Children’s Hospital said the baby’s injuries were evidence of “torture,” according to court records.
Isaac has been referred to in previous Peninsula Daily News reports as Isaac Ward.
He was referred to — and celebrated as an adorable little boy — Monday in court as Isaac Ward Martinez.
Melly spoke to a courtroom filled with Isaac’s family and friends, many of whom had traveled from the Quileute reservation at La Push for the proceedings and sat on benches where Kleenex boxes that were taken advantage of lay at the ready.
Ramona Ward herself had confessed she was abusing the child on a regular basis for two months according to her statement to authorities.
“I know that I want to apologize,” Ward said in a statement Monday.
She said she had been suicidal and since then had “turned myself around.”
According to court records, she also had developed an “extreme addiction” to oxycodone.
“I know I hurt, destroyed lives.
“I had my faults, yes.
“God is a forgiving God.”
She also turned to face the packed courtroom.
“I hope one day you will forgive me, and I love you.”
Melly said he would “be remiss” in not imposing 26½ years.
“I hope you and your God can sort all this out,” Melly said.
Ramona Ward’s daughter, Michelle, lived at her mother’s Calawah Way home and had put Isaac and his two school-age brothers in Ramona’s care while Michelle worked.
Indian Child Welfare Services had put the three boys in the care of Michelle, who had four of her own children living in the 1,328 square-foot Calawah Way mobile home that had three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Michelle had custody of Isaac and his brothers since May 5, 2016.
Family members who had lived at the home had statements read in court.
“You should know that my brother had a cute laugh,” said Isaac’s school-age brother.
“Ramona, I think you are a monster.
“I hope you think about what you did.”
A 12-year-old girl who lived at the home said Isaac was “adorable,” and will always be remembered.
“I just wish he had laughed a lot more,” she recalled.
The girl said “Mona” would not let anyone play with the boy, that she isolated him, that “I saw her hit him,” the girl recalled.
“The inside of me hurt,” the girl said.
The girl “told the manager of Indian Child Welfare Jessica Smith about Ramona ‘beating up” [Isaac] and Jessica told [the girl] she was lying,” according to court records.
Smith and Quileute tribal officials have refused repeated requests to comment about the case against Ward since it was filed 19 months ago.
Tribal spokeswoman Jackie Jacobs did not respond to a request for comment on the case Monday afternoon.
County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin and Ward’s attorney, Port Angeles lawyer John Hayden of Clallam Public Defender, said the “system” failed Isaac.
“Doctors failed to see the injuries that were occurring, and [social service] workers that were in the home failed to see what was going on at that home,” Devlin said.
“Nobody sees anything,” Hayden said, yet mandated reports were being filed about the children in the home.
“Either way you look at it, it’s a system failure,” he said.
Devlin said there were more than 150 blood spatter stains throughout the house, and that evidence of blood that was identified as Isaac’s or for which Isaac was “a major contributor” was on more than a dozen locations throughout the house.
Hair also was embedded on the wall of a bedroom closet against which Ramona Ward said she threw Isaac.
Michelle Ward, who had childcare-provider and mandatory reporters training, told authorities she did not know that Isaac was being abused.
A June 18 hearing is set on Ward’s pleas of guilty to second-degree criminal mistreatment and solicitation to deliver a controlled substance, oxycodone, to her mother.
Both Ramona and Isaac slept in the same room.
“Isaac would sleep under the daybed while Ramona slept on the day bed,” Devlin said.
On Nov. 9, 2016, two days before Isaac died, Ramona twice grabbed him by the throat and pushed him to the floor.
That same day, she pushed him away from her, causing his head to hit an end table, after which he became sluggish, then unresponsive.
Isaac died two days later at Harborview Medical Center.