Mother faces judge in severe child abuse case, denied release
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Natalie Saiz appeared before a judge Friday. She’s the mother of a 5-year-old boy who was found severely beaten and bruised on Oct. 29.
Saiz and her boyfriend, Phillip Valencia, were arrested. Both will be held in jail until trial.
Saiz had her pretrial detention hearing Friday. In court, Judge Bruce Fox saw pictures showing some of the boy’s injuries.
“The injuries to the child, even though they appear to be pretty bad, were not severe,” said Raul Lopez, defense attorney. “There was bruising, but nothing that was life-threatening.”
Police lapel camera video shows officers taking the boy from the home where Saiz and her boyfriend live. Court records show the boy spent days in the hospital, recovering.
“In the forensic interview, (the boy) disclosed that his mom, the defendant and codefendant, told him not to tell anything that happened to him, which is a huge concern when it comes to conditions of release,” said Savannah Brandenburg, prosecutor.
When presenting the case to the judge, the prosecutor pointed out Saiz’s criminal history, drug use, and the six previous times she was investigated by CYFD.
“The most important thing is that if she is unwilling to protect her own child or get him medical care, she is not going to comply with any other condition,” Brandenburg said. “She is a danger to everyone because the one person she is responsible for, she let down.”
Meanwhile, the defense focused on the child’s interview after he was taken from the home.
“Obviously, Ms. Saiz doesn’t have any other children in the home,” Lopez said. “It is clear that she was not the one who did the damage to the child, in terms of her hitting the child. It appears from the comments that the child has made, “daddy,” whether another daddy or Phillip, is the one that inflicted those injuries.”
The defense argued there were options to safely release Saiz, under the condition that she would not have contact with her child.
“Ms. Saiz doesn’t have a lot of criminal history, she is working with CYFD,” Lopez said. “There is a plan to bring the child back into her life – not anytime soon, but in the future. She has a place to live. She can be on GPS, house arrest, strict curfew.”
However, none of those were satisfactory for the judge.
“Prioritizing her own well-being over the safety of the child is a concern of the court,” Judge Fox said. “Overall, that decision-making that involved the harm to a child makes me find that the defendant is a danger to the community.”
Saiz told police the boy was injured after falling off his bed. The 5-year-old is now in CYFD custody.