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Las Cruces couple gets probation in child abuse case

LAS CRUCES – A Las Cruces judge on Tuesday sentenced a couple in a 2016 child abuse case that involved a child who, according to investigators, had been stabbed with a butcher’s knife and forced to sleep outside in the cold as a punishment.

Third Judicial District Court Judge Doug Driggers sentenced Stephan K. Cordero, 26, and Josie Rubio, 30, on three counts apiece of child abuse not resulting in great bodily harm, a third-degree felony. Driggers officially issued nine-year sentences to both Cordero and Rubio, but he also suspended the sentences, reducing them to five years of probation apiece.

That means Cordero and Rubio won’t be imprisoned, unless they violate the terms of their probation.

Cordero and Rubio had been in detention until Tuesday. Driggers told them that, after they are released from the county detention center, likely Wednesday morning, they’re obligated to report to the state’s probation and parole office.

“Both defendants will be on zero tolerance,” Driggers said. “If you violate your conditions of probation, you will go to penitentiary.”

They’re not allowed to have contact with the two child victims in the case, unless authorized by probation officers. The two must take year-long parenting classes, anger management classes and participate in individual and group therapy, among other terms.

The couple pleaded no contest, per the terms of a plea agreement, in March.

Two people, a deacon from the couple’s church and Cordero’s boss, spoke in favor of Cordero and Rubio.

Harvey Fielder, a deacon of a Las Cruces church, said Cordero and Rubio participated in Bible study and attended services at his church. They also both did a lot of volunteer work, including replacing carpet and other construction projects, and Rubio was involved in a couple of ministry projects, he said.

“We know there is still a lot for them to do,” he said. “We love them. We know that they’re honorable people.”

Looking back

Between April and October of 2015, Rubio’s son said he was forced to sleep outside the home “on the concrete patio in his wet clothes,” according to court documents filed in 2016. On cold nights, he said, he would ask for a coat or blanket, but Rubio and Cordero allegedly refused to give him either. So, he told investigators, he tried to keep warm by turning on a gas grill.

The boy said he also was sprayed with water from a garden hose and beaten with a stick. He alleged that Cordero shot him with a pellet gun.

Rubio’s daughter, meanwhile, told detectives her mother allegedly stomped on her stomach and that Cordero would beat her with a leather belt.

Prosecutors alleged that Cordero had also stabbed the boy with a butcher’s knife, and that Rubio had held down her daughter so that Cordero could strike the girl with a belt. Court documents suggest that the Rubio and Cordero became enraged with the girl because she was “not cleaning right.”

A superseding indictment filed by prosecutors also alleged that Cordero sexually abused a child in the household.

As part of the plea agreement, other child charges against the couple were dropped, and prosecutors will not pursue the superseding indictment.

Diana Alba Soular may be reached at 575-541-5443, dalba@lcsun-news.com or @AlbaSoular on Twitter.

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