A News 3 Investigates analysis of court cases and child maltreatment deaths in Wisconsin in 2020 reveals Dane County set the lowest bar for release in the state in two ways: for cases where a first degree reckless homicide charge was used, as well as cases where criminal charges were brought in children's deaths from abuse or neglect.

MADISON, Wis. — The headline in late 2020 came and went quietly: a young Dane County couple, a boyfriend charged with reckless homicide and a mother with child neglect in her baby’s death at just 7 weeks old.

In the months after the death in May, Arkeem Ashley, 26, and Esthefania Martinez, 22, had largely cooperated with the police investigation. Their criminal history: a single misdemeanor for Ashley, the boyfriend. It was months after the baby’s death that the charges came: the pandemic was ramping up, and the Madison Police Department referred charges to the Dane County district attorney without arresting them in December.

Investigative Reporter

Naomi Kowles is an investigative reporter for WISC-TV News 3 Now and Channel3000.com. If you have an investigative story you would like her to look into, she can be contacted at nkowles@wisctv.com.