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DCS halts payments to convicted murderer's wife

Posted: 6:19 PM, Feb 11, 2016
Updated: 2016-02-12 06:10:46Z

For years, Dr. Marta DeSoto has evaluated families for Arizona in child protection cases.

Under a state contract, the Department of Child Safety has paid the clinical psychologist a lot of money to do it – $410,000 in the past two fiscal years alone.

But what state officials didn’t know is that DeSoto was married to a convicted child murderer. A man she met while working in the state prison system.

An inmate she’s been trying to get released for years so he can move into her home with her two children.

“The facts in this case defy common sense”

“The facts in this case defy common sense,” said Governor’s Office spokesman Daniel Scarpinato, “and we are pleased to hear this individual’s business relationship with the state has been terminated thanks to ABC15’s thorough reporting.”

The Department of Child Safety cut DeSoto’s contract on Wednesday.

The agency making the decision less than two days after ABC15 contacted the department with information and records detailing DeSoto’s marriage to a murderer whose case made national headlines.

A murder without motive 

DeSoto’s husband is Jacob Wideman – DOC inmate #070340.

On August 16, 1986, Wideman murdered Eric Kane in his sleep. He stabbed Kane in the chest twice and left him to bleed to death.

The murder was unprovoked. There was no motive. Wideman would later say the crime was “the result of the buildup of a lot of emotions,” according to media reports.  

The crime was “the result of the buildup of a lot of emotions”

Both Wideman and Kane were 16-years-old, staying in the same Flagstaff motel room while on a summer camp trip.

The case made national headlines. The two boys came from privileged families, and Wideman is the son of award-winning author John Wideman.

A year after the crime, a stunning second murder confession added to the case’s intrigue.

Awaiting trial, Wideman confessed to murdering a female college student in his hometown of Laramie, Wyo. However, he later recanted the confession, and the charges were dropped.

Wideman said the confession was made in hopes of getting the death penalty.

A judge sentenced Wideman to life in prison for Kane’s death. However, he would be eligible for parole after 25 years.

Prison romance

Dr. DeSoto declined an interview request. When called by an ABC15 reporter, she said there was nothing she wanted to say about her marriage or her contract with the state.

However, ABC15 pieced together the history of her relationship with Wideman using court records, state documents and prison logs.

Before her contract with the Department of Child Safety, DeSoto worked in Arizona’s prison system.

She began working for the corrections department in July 2003. Later that year, she began seeing Wideman as a patient in both group and individual sessions.

During this time, both deny the relationship was anything more than professional, records show.

In July 2006, DeSoto quits working for the DOC. Six months later, Wideman sends DeSoto a letter.

ABC15 obtained Wideman’s prison visitation log (below). It shows after that letter, DeSoto began making regular visits. She came to the prison more than 30 times in 2007.

As the number of visits grew, so did their romance.

Wideman and DeSoto were engaged in May 2010. The two married in July 2013.

It wasn’t Wideman’s only prison marriage. From 2004 to 2006, he was married to another DOC psychologist.

It wasn’t Wideman’s only prison marriage. From 2004 to 2006, he was married to another DOC psychologist.

Since the marriage, DeSoto also brought her children to meet Wideman at least once. The visit occurred without the knowledge the children’s biological father and against his wishes, court records show.

Ethical questions surface                                  

While officials at the Department of Child Safety may not have known about DeSoto’s marriage to Wideman, concerns did surface in matters before two other state agencies.

The Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners received two complaints regarding the relationship, records show.

In 2012, DeSoto accepted a non-disciplinary action that ordered her to take ethics classes.

However, the action remained mostly hidden from the public eye. The reason: State law prohibits non-disciplinary actions from being posted on the agency’s website even though they are considered public records.

A copy of the 2012 board’s action can be seen below.

But the psychology board only took action in 2012. Members dismissed the second complaint after determining it raised issues too similar to the previous one.

The relationship has also been questioned repeatedly by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency.

Since 2011, Wideman has unsuccessfully asked the clemency board to be paroled five times. DeSoto has testified on his behalf, and their marriage has been met with suspicion and concern.

“That’s of grave concern to me. I’m just being honest,” said Elaine Kirschbaum, clemency board chairwoman, during a 2015 hearing.

In 2011, Wideman admitted to having impulses several times a year, records show

The board has also balked at releasing Wideman given his mental health history. In 2011, Wideman admitted to having impulses several times a year, records show.

He also struggled with other mental health issues in 2012, requiring treatment.

“The concern of his mental health has not been alleviated in my mind,” said member Brian Livingston, a former police officer.

Livingston was also bothered by Wideman’s hope to move in with DeSoto’s and her two children.

“There are two children involved here,” he said. “I’m not going to have those children feel terrorized by an individual they really don’t know. I can’t accept that responsibility.”

ABC15 has also learned that Wideman will go before the clemency board again on February 18.

Cases now under review

Dr. Marta DeSoto appears to have had contracts with the state going back several years.

ABC15 obtained records and information that show she has evaluated cases for the Department of Child Safety and Department of Economic Security.

Those contracts have reached almost $450,000 since 2012.

The Department of Child Safety said her contracts included “psychiatric and psychological services, behavioral health and behavior health assessments and neuropsychological assessments.”

So far this fiscal year, DeSoto handled 174 cases for the agency. In a statement, officials said her caseload is now under review.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com

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