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An Arizona father died less than a week after a jailhouse suicide attempt left him “medically incapacitated” while he was awaiting trial for the abduction of his infant son and the murder of the boy's mother.
Eric Maes, 30, was accused of “intentionally” running down his former partner, Brittany Walker-Martie, in a stolen minivan earlier this month. He has died following a jailhouse suicide attempt on Feb. 13. Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed his death.
The cause and manner of his death aren’t yet available. An autopsy report is pending. No further details surrounding his death have been released.
Maes was charged with first-degree murder in Walker-Martie’s death, as well as theft by means of transportation, kidnapping, and endangerment.
However, a judge dismissed criminal charges against him on Feb. 18 following his suicide attempt. In the days leading up to his death, Maes’ family had lobbied for prosecutors to drop the charges against him.
"As an act of mercy to his family, we agreed to dismiss these charges," Jennifer Liewer, a spokesperson for Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, told the Arizona Republic. "This was not done for the defendant. We felt for his mother and felt that this was the correct decision based on his condition. It was an extraordinary move on the part of prosecutors.”
Liewen had previously described Maes as “medically incapacitated.”
Had Maes recovered, the charges could have been refiled, officials said.
The suicide attempt reportedly left Maes “brain dead,” according to Walker-Martie’s family. County authorities expressed doubt last week that Maes would survive, according to KPNX.
"We are aware the charges have been dismissed and that it was so the family can make important medical decisions on his behalf,” Walker-Martie's sister-in-law, Lindsy Walker, told the Arizona Republic in a written statement. “We only know that he’s possibly brain dead. Other than that, we don’t know anything."
The Sun City father was accused of hijacking Walker-Martie’s minivan on Feb. 9 while her young son was allegedly still inside the vehicle. Walker-Martie, who was ejected from the minivan during the incident, was later struck and killed by Maes as she stood on the sidewalk, witnesses told police. Maes then fled the scene in the vehicle. An Amber Alert was later issued for the couple’s 10-month-old boy.
Investigators managed to interview Walker-Martie in the hospital before she died, according to the Peoria Police Department. The former couple's son was later found on the porch of a Phoenix property. Maes was arrested on Feb. 10 following a “short foot pursuit” with police.
Walker-Martie died trying to save her son’s life, family and friends said.
"She died trying to save little Abel," her friend, Heather Giard, told KTVK.
A vigil was held for the Walker-Martie earlier this month.
"I love her so much!” her 11-year-old daughter, Prudence, told the crowd. "She was my mommy. She was always there for us."
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