Powell man imprisoned for child abuse, drug use

Posted 4/23/24

As he appeared before the Park County District Court for sentencing on counts related to child abuse and drug use, Juan L. Marquez Jr. described it as a case of history repeating itself. 

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Powell man imprisoned for child abuse, drug use


As he appeared before the Park County District Court for sentencing on counts related to child abuse and drug use, Juan L. Marquez Jr. described it as a case of history repeating itself. 

Marquez noted his father had appeared before the same court on similar charges decades earlier. In that case, Marquez was the young victim, and he said the abuse he suffered at his father’s hands has stuck with him “forever.”

But on this day in February, the now-42-year-old Marquez was in court as the perpetrator — having abused his own child in 2022. It was also far from Marquez’s first run-in with the law, as he entered the hearing with a long record of criminal conduct involving violence and drugs.

Marquez asked District Court Judge Bill Simpson to break the cycle by giving him an opportunity to seek counseling and drug treatment, but the judge opted for the approach recommended by prosecutors. He imposed nine to 10 years of prison time.

“I take no great pleasure in the imposition of this sentence, Mr. Marquez, but frankly … you’ve had plenty of second chances, regardless of the horrendous upbringing that you suffered from,” Simpson said. “Your family has tried to pull together, but unfortunately, the level of violence, anger, frustration, drug use and all that goes with that torment has haunted you just as it did your father, and perhaps his father before him.”

The judge called the case “a tragedy in every sense of the word.”


‘Chance after chance after chance’

According to testimony in court, Marquez first began using drugs like meth and marijuana as a young teenager and he faced a felony delivery charge in 1999. Other charges, including aggravated assault and battery, followed over the subsequent decades. Some victims were household members.

“When my brother is sober, … he has the biggest heart and everybody can call him and he would drop whatever he’s doing, and he would be there in a heartbeat to fix stuff, to whatever help you needed,” Mario Marquez testified, but he said Juan is different when he’s using drugs and alcohol.

Amid his many run-ins with the law, Marquez never was ordered to complete drug treatment, which Mario said was a mistake. Mario, who has multiple criminal convictions of his own, faulted law enforcement agencies for giving his brother “a slap on the wrist” in past cases; he said that allowed Marquez to avoid dealing with his addiction.

Testimony and court records indicate Marquez may have been offered leniency in exchange for cooperation; Marquez specifically said that he assisted in the investigation of a gruesome 2014 murder, in which his father fatally shot and then allegedly dismembered a man in Badger Basin. His father, John, is currently at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, serving a 25- to 35-year prison sentence for second-degree murder.

In his remarks, Deputy Park County Attorney Jack Hatfield said past prosecutors gave Marquez too many chances.

“The state should have never let this get to this point,” Hatfield said. He argued that, amid the repeated opportunities, “we have a minor child that has been victimized her whole life.”


Multiple instances of abuse

In 2020, Marquez was charged with felony abuse after he reportedly bruised his daughter’s arm, smashed her face into the side of a vehicle and threatened to tie her up and throw her into the water.

“I thought he was going to kill me,” the girl said in a victim impact statement.

The case ultimately resulted in a misdemeanor conviction with 70 days of jail time. Marquez ran into additional trouble in September 2021, when a state trooper caught him with a small amount of meth and marijuana; possessing the drugs qualified as a felony because of two prior convictions.

Then in May 2022, authorities were told that Marquez had abused his daughter again: reportedly pulling her hair, punching her in the face, smacking her head against the wall and then strangling her.

“My dad always promised me things,” the girl said in her statement. “He promised me he was sorry. He promised me he would change. He promised me he would never hit me again. And he promised he’d never go back to jail. 

“He always broke the promises he made me,” she wrote.

In her statement, the girl described the abuse in detail and how it has negatively impacted her entire life.

“I love my dad more than anyone in the world, but he is an angry and abusive man,” she wrote. “And there’s no excuse for it.”


Breaking the cycle

It took authorities more than a year to locate Marquez, arresting him in Colorado in May. He’s been in custody since then.

At February’s sentencing, Marquez disputed some of the allegations made against him, but acknowledged he was guilty of child abuse and drug possession. 

“To say I'm very sorry is an actual understatement,” Marquez said. He apologized to his daughter and expressed hope that he can make amends one day.

Along with his court-appointed defense attorney, Tim Blatt, and a couple of family members, Marquez argued he could make more progress through treatment rather than prison.

“At some point, we have to step in and break that cycle,” Blatt said, asking for one last chance.

However, a presentence report from probation officer Ethan Landers recommended prison time given “the nature and depravity” of the crime. Landers said both prison time and treatment were necessary to protect the community and the victim.

Simpson ultimately sided with that view, citing in part Marquez’s lengthy criminal record and the abuse inflicted on his daughter.

“There is a point where enough is enough,” Simpson said.

The judge added that nine to 10 years of prison time was not enough for “a horrendous crime.” 


Ordering restitution

In late March, Simpson ordered Marquez to repay the Wyoming Medicaid program for nearly $86,500 worth of costs that the state has incurred in providing services to his daughter. That’s on top of a $254 bill for the cost of transporting him to Cody from Colorado and $675 in court fees.

As of Wednesday, Marquez remained at the Park County Detention Center, awaiting transport to the custody of the Wyoming Department of Corrections.