Three-year-old Leland Valdez loved basketball, playing with his older sister, Alysa, and just running around.
He died Wednesday morning at University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque and his mother (Tabetha Van Holtz, 22) and her boyfriend (Steven Gallegos, 20) are in the Santa Fe County jail charged with child abuse.
The boy’s father, Andrew Valdez, 25, told me Wednesday morning of Leland:
“He was joyful. He was happy. He was always wanting to run around, play with his toy guns. And he loved to play basketball.”
Andrew Valdez has been at his son’s bedside since he learned of the abuse allegations from a CYFD employee Tuesday. He says past reports he filed with CYFD concerning possible abuse “led to nothing getting done” and investigators gave custody back to the boy’s mother when they couldn’t prove how bruises were obtained by the boy sometime last fall.
The bond set for Van Holtz and Gallegos is $500,000 and they were charged Monday after they brought Leland to Christus-St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe saying he fell off a kitchen chair and hit his head. Doctors there determined some injuries had been there much longer than what Van Holtz and Gallegos were alleging and police charged the pair.
The boy dying does not change the charge as the felony abuse charge already covers injuries “resulting in great bodily harm or death” and is already the highest abuse felony on the books.
Here is the story link to the article published Wednesday that I will be trying to update throughout the day: