ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A highly emotionally charged child abuse death case is the hands of a state court jury, which heard two wearying weeks of testimony before the final wrapup on Friday.
Isaac Arevalos, a healthy, happy 14-month-old boy who had just starting to walk died after spending time a year ago with a married couple and their own kids. The two mothers – Isaac’s mom Carmina Vargas and the babysitting mom Lizy Portillo – had become friends at a GED class, and Vargas, who had lost custody of her other children although she still saw them, was happy to have a break from parenting.
Although Portillo faces identical child abuse felonies, the defendant on trial before Judge Cristina Jaramillo is Portillo’s now estranged husband Christopher Garcia, whom Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies identified as the person who inflicted 27 separate injuries to the child’s head – blunt force trauma that shut off oxygen to his brain.
Garcia faces a potential life sentence if convicted of intentionally caused child abuse resulting in death based on six distinct prosecution theories, and a mandatory 18 years if convicted of child abuse resulting in death by medical neglect – either intentional, recklessly caused or recklessly permitted. He’s also charged with conspiracy to commit the abuse.