Mother sentenced for role in beating death of 4-year-old child
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A judge on Thursday sentenced a mother who pleaded guilty to charges related to the beating death of her four-year-old child.
Krista Cruz reached a deal with prosecutors in September. She pleaded guilty to four different charges related to the beating death of her child, four-year-old James Dunklee Cruz.
During the plea hearing, Cruz admitted she didn’t do enough to protect her child. Prosecutors also outlined the role she played in James’ death.
Cruz’s roommate, Zerrick Marquez, beat James to death in December 2019 when they were left alone together. Marquez admitted to killing James and is now serving life in prison.
Just months before James was killed, he was taken to an urgent care. There, he disclosed abuse at the hands of his mother, her best friend, Pamela Esparza, and Marquez.
The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department told Cruz they could not go back to that home – but they did. James was killed a short time later.
In January, CYFD reportedly agreed to pay $4.9 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit involving James’ death.
Judge Stan Whitaker sentenced Cruz to a total of 22 years in prison, but her sentences are running concurrently. That means she will serve 10 years in prison followed by five years of supervised probation.
Judge Whitaker also sentenced Esparza to 13 years in prison late last year.
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