March 7, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
In the New Mexico case of Leland Valdez, his mother, Tabetha Van Holtz has pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse and abandonment resulting in great bodily harm or death. Read about it here (Albuquerque Journal, 3/6/14). Leland was three years old when Van Holtz and her boyfriend Steven Gallegos brought him to an emergency room claiming he’d fallen. Police later determined he’d been beaten to death. Before that, his father, Andrew Valdez had reported the boy’s abuse by his mother to police and Children, Youth and Families Department caseworkers. They failed to intervene. Valdez is now pursuing a civil suit against the Sheriff’s Department for its part in Leland’s death.
Van Holtz will be sentenced in August following the trial of Steven Gallegos. She faces a maximum of nine years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Part of her deal with prosecutors requires her to testify “truthfully” in the trial of Gallegos. He’s charged with three counts of negligent child abuse and one count of intentional child abuse resulting in death. He earlier rejected a plea bargain offered by prosecutors.
From here it looks very much like leveraged Gallegos’ rejection of the plea bargain into one of her own. She’s received leniency in return for pointing the finger at Gallegos. Of course, anyone could see that was likely to happen the instant Gallegos announced his intention of taking his case to a jury. That must mean he and his lawyer have some sort of evidence they believe will convince the jury to acquit him or at most convict him of negligence.
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