Created: 04/30/2014 10:51 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4
It's a major development in a case that's gripped New Mexico: nine-year-old Omaree Varela killed, police say, kicked to death by his own mother.
But Synthia Varela Casaus isn't the only one responsible, according to new charges filed today. The Bernalillo County District Attorney says Steve Casaus -- the boy's stepfather -- is at fault, too. And now he's facing a long list of charges.
Steve Casaus was there in June 2013 when APD officers responded to an open-line 911 call: 20 minutes of a man and a woman being verbally abusive to Omaree.
And police say Casaus was also there the night Omaree was killed. That's why the DA charged Casaus today with six counts of intentional child abuse.
Legal experts polled by KOB Eyewitness News 4 say child abuse cases against someone in proximity to the death of a child aren't difficult to prosecute, especially when there are several alternatives to each count against him.
The DA's office has included the slightly lesser charge of negligent child abuse resulting in death. It's a move experts tell us will likely set Casaus up for a plea deal, or give a jury the option of exactly which charges he could be convicted.