On January 26, 2011, three-year-old Leland Valdez was beaten to death by his own mother, Tabetha Van Holtz:
Initially, Holtz and the man she was dating at the time, Steven Gallegos, claimed that Leland had acquired the injuries after falling out of a chair.
However, an autopsy showed otherwise.
According to reports, the young child spent his final days in the hospital, where health officials concluded that he’d been beaten all over his body:
Holtz’s boyfriend, Gallegos, was sentenced to 21 years in prison:
Holtz, meanwhile, took a plea deal and managed to get only a nine year sentence, with two years probation.
Leland’s father, Andrew Valdez, was absolutely devastated, especially because he’d seen it coming.
According to KRQE News, before Leland’s death, Valdez reported to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and the Children Youth and Families Department about “seeing signs of abuse on the 3-year-old after a visit with Van Holtz.”
But authorities did nothing.
And now, less than two years after Holtz was sentenced to prison, she’s been released — and the news has left Andrew Valdez, furious.
— Jacob Wiklund (@JacobWESH) July 21, 2014
Valdez and his current wife, Angela, never received notification that Holtz was getting an early release. In fact, they only found out about Holtz’s release after coming across numerous Facebook posts from people congratulating her on getting out.
It’s worth noting that the Santa Fe District Attorney’s office says they sent Valdez a letter in April notifying him of her projected release. But Valdez said the letter was sent to an old address.
Either way, it’s cold comfort. During an interview with reporters at KRQU News 13, Valdez stated:
“Knowing that she’s out and she’s roaming the streets, it’s kind of scary.”
While his wife, Angela added:
“All the comments said, ‘Oh we’re happy you’re out.’ We never knew, we didn’t know that she was out.”
Valdez, meanwhile, is in disbelief that the justice system could let this happen:
“I think the courts are full of it, you know my son’s dead. I don’t understand how that’s not a serious crime.”
I’ve known people that I’ve gone to school with that have gotten caught with pot and are doing ten times more time than what she did for killing her child.”
In fact, he thinks she deserves the death penalty for what she did:
“She got a slap on the wrist and she’s scot-free. I think she deserves to be in jail with the possibility of a death penalty.”
Knowing that Holtz will get to live the rest of her life free makes Leland’s death seem all the more tragic, according to Valdez and Angela:
“He never got to see his first day of kindergarten, he never got to join football, he would have been 9 this September. He was just a loving little boy.
“Our laws here in New Mexico are just, they’re ridiculous.”
Apparently, the reason Holtz was released after such a short period of time was because she served upwards of three years while the trial was going on. With good behavior, that meant Holtz could get out a year-and-a-half after sentencing.