Man charged with murder in death of girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter, docs show

Jeho Martinez, 26, is accused of killing 2-year-old Zyre Ornelas on or about Nov. 21, 2021. (Houston Police Department)

HOUSTON – A man is accused of beating his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter to death, and attempted to blame her 5-year-old brother as a cause for her injuries, according to court documents.

Jeho Martinez, 26, has been charged with murder and felony injury to a child in the death of Zyre Ornelas.

On Nov. 24, 2021, officers were called to Texas Children Hospital - The Woodlands to investigate after Zyre was admitted to the hospital in critical condition. Initial reports stated the little girl sustained an injury to the back of her head after falling off the bed.

Three days later, the toddler was pronounced dead.

According to documents, Martinez told investigators that, on Nov. 22, the child’s mother had left for work at 7 a.m., and that he and Zyre were on the bed sleeping. He said around 8:30 a.m., he got up to use the bathroom and left Zyre and her 5-year-old brother, who was awake, alone. He stated that five to seven minutes later, he heard a loud sound and found Zyre on the floor. Martinez said he asked the 5-year-old what happened and he told him that she had fallen. He said he held Zyre until she stopped crying and gave her a tablet, but around 5 p.m., she coughed up mucus.

Martinez said he told the child’s mother what happened and the woman said she would be home soon to check on her.

An autopsy was performed and concluded that Zyre’s death was caused by homicide.

The investigation revealed that the child’s injuries did not match what Martinez described. Zyre suffered numerous non-accidental blunt force injuries, including fractures on multiple planes of the skull, contusions on the inner thigh and chest area, and healing fractures, according to court records.

The pathologist report states that the injuries Zyre suffered were consistent with her being swung around and her head hitting a piece of furniture, causing a displaced skull fracture. The report also states that the child had multiple bruises consistent with older injuries.

When Martinez was questioned about the older injuries, he said he had no idea how she got those injuries but that her 5-year-old brother was “usually rough with her while fighting,” according to court documents. After detectives obtained Martinez’s cellphone, they found a photo of Zyre with a large contusion on the side of her head that was as large as an adult hand from Oct. 12, 2021. They also discovered messages between Martinez and the child’s mother over a potty training incident from Nov. 18, 2021.

Martinez was arrested and charged with murder. His bond was set at $70,000. He has since been released from jail after making bail.

About the Author:

Award-winning journalist, mother, YouTuber, social media guru, millennial, mentor, storyteller, University of Houston alumna and Houston-native.