An Arizona father who was arrested and charged with killing the mother of his baby son while kidnapping the boy earlier this month has died by suicide, according to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office.
On Feb. 9, Brittany Martie, 30, was picking up her 10-month-old son, Abel Maes, from a relative's house and putting him in her minivan when the baby's father, Eric Maes, 30, of Sun City, allegedly ambushed her, police said.
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Maes, who did not have custody of the baby, jumped into Martie's minivan and sped away with the boy inside, said police.
Martie died when she grabbed onto the minivan to try and stop Maes from leaving.
Police issued an AMBER Alert for Abel, who was found "in good health" early on Feb. 10 after officers received a report of an abandoned child 11 miles away from where he'd been taken, Peoria Police said.
An alert for Martie's car, a 2010 Chrysler Town and Country minivan, was also sent out. The vehicle was found abandoned at a location just four miles away from Abel.
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Maes was arrested on Feb. 10 after leading officers on a short foot chase.
He was initially charged with manslaughter.
According to court documents obtained by the Arizona Republic, the charges were upgraded to first-degree murder, kidnapping, endangerment and theft of means of transportation after Maes allegedly told authorities he had intentionally driven his car into Martie.
Maes allegedly admitted to knowing Martie would be picking Abel up from relatives who were babysitting the boy on Feb. 9 and waiting for her to arrive so he could jump in her car and take the child, court documents show.
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On Feb. 13, Maes was rushed to a local hospital after he attempted suicide inside the jail where he was being held.
On Thursday, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge dismissed the criminal charges Maes was facing, the Republic reports.
The judge dropped the charges to allow Maes' family to make medical decisions for him since he was "medically incapacitated," according to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, the Republic and Fox 10 report.
The family said it was difficult for them to make decisions for Maes while he was still in police custody, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said, the Republic reports.
Maes is believed to have been left brain dead after the suicide attempt, the Republic reports.
The following day, Maes died of his injuries in the hospital, according to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner, the Republic, AZ Family.com, and AZ Central.com report.
The cause and manner of his death are still pending.
Maes's friends and family were concerned about him in the weeks leading up to the events of Feb. 9, 12 News reports.
Now that Abel will grow up without either parent alive, "This is something that's tragic for everyone involved," a friend told the outlet.
Martie's friends and family are still mourning her loss and remember her as caring – and strong.
"She was this sweet, tiny, cute little thing, but she had strength like five times that," her longtime friend, Melanie Cowan, told the Republic.
She said Maes had allegedly been controlling and sometimes violent with Martie, which police noted in the documents obtained by the Republic.
"It was hard to talk to her the last few months because of Eric, and I know that he cut her off from everybody and I never knew if it was her I was talking to or it was going to be him," Cowan said, according to the Republic.
Most recently, Cowan said Martie had taken steps to care for herself and her son, including starting a new job and finding a new safe place to live.
"The raw strength she had for that baby — I wouldn't expect anything else from her," Cowan told the Republic. "She went down fighting and that's not surprising."
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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