A father is questioning the legal system in New Mexico after learning a woman involved in the beating death of his three-year-old son was recently released from prison after serving only two years behind bars, local media reported Wednesday.
Tabetha Van Holtz was sentenced to nine years in 2014 after being convicted for the murder of her son, Leland Valdez, Santa Fe’s KRQE News 13 reported. Although Van Leland and her at-the-time boyfriend, Steven Gallegos, claimed the little boy had fallen out of a chair when they discovered him unconscious, it was later discover during his autopsy that he had actually been beaten, and there were older injuries all over his body. The couple was charged with his death. Gallegos was sentenced to 21 years in prison.
However, Van Holtz was released after barely serving two years in prison, which has left the child’s father, Andrew Valdez, outraged.
“Knowing that she’s out and she’s roaming the streets, it’s kind of scary,” Valdez told reporters.
He discovered Van Holt had been released from prison via Facebook after seeing a string of post congratulating the ex-convict on her freedom.
“All the comments said, ‘Oh we’re happy you’re out. We never knew, we didn’t know that she was out,” Valdez’s wife, Angela Valdez, said.
According to the father, Van Holtz's release shows just another flaw in New Mexico’s judicial system.
“Our system here is week,” he said. “Our laws here are weak. 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.”
Santa Fe’s District Attorney said in a statement Van Holtz had already served three years by the time she was sentenced. With the additional year-and-a-half and good behavior she was able to receive an early release with supervised probation. She is currently on an ankle monitor.
The DA office claims a letter was sent to Valdez in April notifying his family of Van Holt’s projected release, which he claims was sent to an old address and never received.