Angel Eyes

Page 2 of 8

They left, and Justin didn't bring up abortion again. He was sweet and attentive toward her after that, Caleena says, and things seemed fine between them until she called him at work a few months later. They were chatting when he casually announced that he didn't think they should live together. "I just lost it," Caleena says. "It was our first big fight."

Justin hadn't found a place for them to live, but in anticipation of their move, Caleena had broken the lease on her apartment and was staying in a hotel with her daughter, Alyssa, who was just over a year old. She wasn't about to be homeless while carrying one child and caring for another. "I told him that if we needed to have separate rooms, fine. I'd have the baby, recuperate and then move out."

It took another couple of months for Justin to find a place and secure a loan, but by June 1 he was ready to move into a new condo development in Aurora -- and share a bed with Caleena. She says Justin didn't tell his family she was pregnant until right before they moved in together -- and then they questioned whether he was even the father. "That was their big thing; they were going to wait and see if it was really his," Caleena says.

The day after they moved in together, Justin lost his job at a financial-software development company, so Caleena became a nanny to pay the bills -- except the mortgage, which Justin's parents agreed to cover. "I didn't mind; I was content," says Caleena, who wanted her new child to have a dad since Alyssa's father isn't very involved.

On August 21, 2002, Caleena started having contractions while visiting her mother in Loveland. She immediately went to the hospital, where she remained in labor for the next 36 hours. Justin came to visit but left when he got tired of waiting around. Barbara had to call him at home when her daughter's water broke. Justin came back but slept in the waiting room until just before the big moment, when Caleena's half-sister, Pam Martinez, woke him up so he could videotape the birth of five-pound, five-ounce Jasmine Danae. She looked just like him. Janice and Lonnie McIntosh didn't go to the hospital. And Caleena claims she and Jasmine weren't invited to family functions, including Justin's younger sister's high school graduation and his older sister's wedding. "He always said he had an image to maintain," Caleena says.

But when it came to caring for Jasmine, Justin took an active role, regularly feeding her and changing her diapers. And he'd always been good with Alyssa, even though Caleena says she sometimes had to tell him how to properly scold a small child. "There were times he'd yell at her like she was a five-year-old, and I had to explain that she couldn't understand the words he was saying." Although he got impatient and frustrated at times, like all adults do around young kids, Caleena says Justin never showed any signs of violence. He'd never raised a hand to her, nor was she aware of him touching the girls. Not until November 27, 2002.

Caleena had been at a friend's house the night before and didn't want to risk driving after she'd been drinking, so she called Justin and told him she was going to stay put. He was livid, but when Caleena got home the next morning, Jasmine was asleep and everything seemed peaceful. A few minutes later, Jasmine woke up crying, and Caleena went to get her. What she saw when she bent over the bassinet to pick up the baby shocked her: There was a handprint on Jasmine's left cheek, and her skin was red. She asked Justin what the hell had happened and recalls him saying he didn't know, that he had just snapped. He started crying, doubled over the kitchen sink.

At that moment, Caleena knew things would never be the same between them. Still, she thought it was an isolated incident, a moment of rage inspired by her absence the night before. Her desire to go out with friends once a week was a sore point in their relationship. "I told him he could have a night out once a week, or even two nights, but he didn't want that. Whenever I'd leave for my night out, I could tell he was mad," she says.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Julie Jargon
Contact: Julie Jargon