Mother charged in death of 3-year-old child appears in court
*WARNING: Viewers may find details disturbing.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Kerri Santos was very emotional in a court appearance Friday. She’s facing several serious charges including child abuse resulting in death after she brought her 3-year-old daughter to UNM hospital already dead and covered in bruises last week.
Santos and three others were later arrested after investigators say Santos’ story didn’t add up about why the 3 year old was hurt so badly. The little girl had bruises healing at different rates around her wrists, ankles, forehead, and underwear line, police said.
Court documents show Santos told police she was leaving Massachusetts to get away from a “bad situation” and that she’d just gotten to town 30 minutes before taking the little girl to the hospital.
Santos told police the little girl fell off a toilet and hit her head at a rest stop, but investigators said her other kids told them another story. Court documents show Santos didn’t want to go to the hospital because there were police there.
James Welch was also in court Friday. His apartment in southeast Albuquerque is where much of the abuse happened, according to the state.
“The older sister who was subject to the safe house interview, she detailed that the child had been tied up, and she demonstrated this with a doll. She demonstrated that her ankles had been tied together and that she’d been tied to the corner of the bed,” said a state prosecutor in court Friday.
The child also said she and her siblings were frequently groped by adults and that her mom just stood and watched, according to police.
The state argued all four adults, including Welch, would have witnessed the abuse because Welch’s apartment is a small studio.
“This is a child that based on the evidence that we have here was beaten to death,” a state prosecutor said.
He argued that Welch did nothing to help the 3 year old. Welch’s attorney argued Welch was only told about the abuse and didn’t see it.
The judge ruled Welch would be released ahead of a possible trial. The same judge ruled Santos would stay in jail because Santos is not from New Mexico and has no residence here.
Austin Bing was also in court, but his hearing was rescheduled until next week. Bing and his mother Christina Hopkins Pena-Cantor were in the car driving to Albuquerque with Santos and her kids, according to police.
An official cause of death hasn’t been released for the 3-year-old girl yet, and Santos’ other two kids were taken into CYFD custody for a 72-hour hold.
KOB 4 asked where the kids were now, and a CYFD spokesperson said the agency could not release that information to us.
Welch, Bing and Hopkins Pena-Cantor are all facing child abuse charges as well. Bing will remain behind bars until his trial.