Thursday, July 23, 2015

Custodial dad charged with "child abandonment" in death of 15-year-old son (Las Cruces, New Mexico)

Once again, who gave this abusive, neglectful father custody? Typical kid-glove treatment too, even after the kid has died.

Dad is identified as JOE A. TORRES.

Las Cruces father charged in son's 2011 death indicted for child abandonment

By Carlos Andres López

Posted: 07/22/2015 05:35:38 PM MDT LAS CRUCES

A Las Cruces father charged in 2011 with intentional child abuse after he allegedly gave alcohol to his 15-year-old son, who later died, is now facing one count of child abandonment resulting in death, according to a superseding indictment returned July 17.

Joe A. Torres and Heather C. Soto were arrested on July 27, 2011, nearly two weeks after their son, Joey "Baby Joe" Torres Jr., was taken off life support at University Medical Center in El Paso, the Las Cruces Police Department reported.

Torres Jr., a sophomore at Las Cruces High School, was found unconscious in a home on the 1100 block of Gardner Avenue, where he was living with his father and stepmother, on the morning of July 4, 2011, according to previous Sun-News reports. The couple tried to resuscitate Torres Jr. for about half an hour before calling 911, police reported.

Torres Jr. was then rushed to a Las Cruces hospital before being transported to UMC. At the El Paso hospital, the couple initially denied the teen had consumed any alcohol or drugs, the previous reports state.

However, about five hours later at the hospital, the couple admitted to police that Torres Jr. had been drinking beer, wine and brandy with them the previous night and into the early morning, police reported.

Authorities later discovered text messages on Torres Jr.'s cellphone, which "stated he was getting drunk" with Torres and that Soto "had prepared alcoholic beverages for him made of E&J (brandy) and two types of wine," according to Torres' indictment.

Torres Jr. had a blood-alcohol content of 0.115, and medical personnel also found opiates in his system, according to the previous reports. Torres Jr. also had a blood sugar level of 570 — several times higher than normal — and emergency workers gave him a shot of Narcan, a drug that reverses the effect of drug overdoses, according to a police report.

Medical personnel told detectives their inability to determine what Torres Jr. had taken hampered their ability to treat him, police reported.

"(Torres) was questioned for 5 hours before he ultimately told medical personnel and law enforcement that his child had been drinking. The delay in medical care resulted in complications in treatment," the indictment states.

Torres Jr. never regained consciousness, the previous news reports state, and he was taken off life support. He was pronounced dead the morning of July 14, 2011.

According to police, Torres Jr. had moved to Las Cruces to live with his father and stepmother in May 2011. Before that, he lived in Colorado, where he had received therapy for suicidal tendencies, alcohol abuse and overdosing on medication, police reported.

The case against Torres, now 43, has been pending for several years. Online court records indicate a grand jury originally charged him with intentional child abuse resulting in death, a first-degree felony that carries a life sentence. Torres was later charged with child abandonment resulting in death and negligent child abuse resulting in death, which prosecutors dismissed July 17, when a grand jury returned the one-count, superseding indictment.

According to the 3rd Judicial District Attorney's Office, child abandonment resulting in death is a second-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Torres is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 3 before District Judge Manuel Arrieta in 3rd Judicial District Court in Las Cruces.

On June 19, Soto, now 35, pleaded no contest to one count each of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and selling or giving alcoholic beverages to a minor — both fourth-degree felonies. Her sentencing has been deferred for three years, according to court documents, and she was placed on unsupervised probation.