ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – A man charged with abusing a two-year-old boy, sending him to the hospital has been ordered to remain behind bars, one of the big reasons is that he’s killed a child before. KRQE News 13 reported on the case of Leland Valdez, one that had a lot of people criticizing the system for letting the abusers out of jail too early and failing to prevent his death.
Andrew Valdez, the father of three-year-old Leland saw firsthand how the system worked after the 2011 death of his son. He died two days after he was rushed to the hospital unconscious.
It came five months after Valdez called the police reporting abuse but the case went nowhere. The boy’s mother Tabitha Van Holtz and her boyfriend Steven Gallegos were arrested after an autopsy showed he was beaten and suffered injuries all over his body.
Gallegos was sentenced to 13 years. With good time he was out in half the time. Now he’s accused again, this time of beating the two-year-old son of his 21-year-old girlfriend, Stormy Torres. Her attorney argued successfully for her release even though she too is charged for her son’s injuries which prosecutors say are severe.
The child was taken to the hospital on Mar. 9 by a babysitter. “The babysitter had previously been told by the defendant that steven had charges for child abuse resulting in homicide given what she heard about him and observed decided to contact law enforcement,” prosecutors said.
On Friday, Gallegos went before a judge as prosecutors prepared to ask a judge to keep him locked up until trial, but it didn’t happen. That probation violation is in relation to the death of Leland Valdez.
The state also argued to keep the mother Stormy Torres behind bars, but the judge denied the motion given her lack of history. Her attorney said the boy, who is out of the hospital, is now with the biological father.