Gov. Martinez wants better child custody laws

Created: 01/03/2014 6:12 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez is calling on state lawmakers to tighten up child custody laws after the case of a 9-year-old boy who was kicked to death by his own mother.

The death of Omaree Varela is still under investigation by police and the state Children Youth and Families Dept. – which never had custody over the boy and never had an active and open case on his family situation.

The boy’s mother, Synthia Varela Casaus, is charged with child abuse resulting in death. Authorities say she has a long record of  police and CYFD interventions and referrals for counseling, but thhere’s not much evidence that she ever went for it. Gov. Martinez says state law in that area lacks teeth and needs to grow some fast.

“The legislature needs to be able to pass a bill that says – you know what – we’ve been checking on you every two weeks and you haven’t gone to any of the programs,” Martinez said. “You haven’t followed through with any of the programs we told you to – now we’re going to take this child.”

Gov. Martinez, the longtime District Attorney in Las Cruces, has a fate in mind for the boy’s mother.

“I hope that she is convicted of first degree child abuse resulting in death, which will result in a life sentence without the possibility of parole,” Martinez said.

While she was DA, Martinez prosecuted the infamous “Baby Brianna”  child abuse-rape-murder case, and crusaded for  the state’s “Baby Brianna” law.  She says that is the law that should send Omaree’s mother to prison for the rest of her life.

Omaree Varela put together a “here’s who I am”  poster at school before he died.  With a smiling photograph of himself in the middle, the 4th grader wrote that he loved to draw, to play football and basketball, and to eat pizza. He wrote that when he grows up, he wants to be a Super Mario and a Ninjago.

But growing up is something Omaree Varela will never get to do.

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