By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer
Prosecutors are petitioning the court to try a Clovis teen father as an adult for the death of his infant son, according to a release from the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Benito Valdez, 16, was indicted Friday by a grand jury on charges of child abuse resulting in the death of a child, child abuse resulting in great bodily injury, obstructing an abuse report and tampering with evidence, the release said.
“After a careful review of all the evidence in the case including the medical records, my staff and I have decided that this is a case that must be tried in adult court and we will seek adult sanctions,” District Attorney Matt Chandler said Friday in the release.
Valdez faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted as an adult compared to two years in custody if tried as a child, Chandler said.
The case remains open and it is possible others could be charged in the case, Clovis Police Lt. James Schoeffel said Friday.
Officials found Christopher Valdez, 4-months, with multiple skull fractures and extensive closed head injuries, dead at his home on 901 East Brady Street on Jan. 14, the release said.
Jesus Mirelez of Clovis has said his brother told him he accidentally dropped the baby and then shook him when he noticed he wasn’t breathing.
“I talked to him at court and he (cried). He (Valdez) said it was an accident. He panicked and freaked and didn’t know what to do. He didn’t seek help because he was scared,” Mirelez said on Jan. 19.
Valdez told police on Jan. 14 he gave the child Tylenol to calm his cries, records show. The baby’s mother, Delia Romero, 19, told police the baby fell to the floor off of her chest as she slept on her couch, records show.
Prosecutor Andrea Reeb said during Valdez’ Jan. 18 detention hearing that the accused put the baby in a car seat after he had been shaken and was later found to be dead.
At Valdez’ detention hearing Judge Stephen Quinn determined no bond be set before Friday’s grand jury hearing, records show.
Valdez appeared without an attorney at his detention hearing, records show.
Valdez is being held at the Curry County Juvenile Detention Center without bond, the release said.