Mother gets probation in child neglect
The 21-year-old mother of a toddler who was battered by her boyfriend was sentenced Monday to probation which includes 30 days in jail for failing to protect the 2-year-old boy.
District Judge Michael Gibbons suspended a 1-year sentence for child neglect against Kati Villalobos and placed her on three years probation.
Her boyfriend, Anthony Marcyes, 19, was sentenced in May to five years in prison for slapping the child’s face with such force he left a handprint.
He pleaded guilty to attempted child abuse or neglect, stemming from the incident which occurred between Feb. 25-March 2 at Villalobos’ residence.
Marcyes slapped the child because he said the little boy wouldn’t stay in bed, and threw an open water bottle at him.
Villalobos admitted that she failed to remove the child although she knew Marcyes had injured the toddler.
The little boy is in the custody of his father who reported the abuse when he went to pick up his son.
“I understand the mistakes I made were bad,” Villalobos said Monday. “There is nothing I did that I can take back. I have loved my son since the day I discovered I was pregnant when I was in high school.”
Turning to face the child’s father who was in court, Villalobos said, “I understand you are mad at me, but I want the opportunity to take care of him.”
She asked Gibbons not to send her to jail.
“It’s not fair to him (the victim) now that he has me back to lose me again,” she said.
The little boy has recovered from his physical injuries and is in the care of psychologist.
Villalobos’ attorney, Derrick Lopez, said his client made the wrong decision, but pointed out the little boy was never hurt before she met Marcyes.
“It’s the position of Ms. Villalobos that she didn’t inflict any injuries. There were times she spanked him, but it was through a diaper,” Lopez said.
He said Villalobos grew up in an atmosphere of domestic battery, and was raised not to report it.
“She made the wrong decision absolutely. She should have called law enforcement,” Lopez said. “Our belief is the additional injury occurred when she was at work.”
Lopez said she has suffered from her decision.
“Her conviction will significantly affect her chance to have any primary custody of her son or control as to the events in his life,” Lopez said.
Villalobos is working, taking parenting classes and undergoing counseling, he said.
“She never wants (the victim) in that situation again. She never wants herself in that situation again,” he said.
Prosecutor Tom Gregory said he was frustrated that he was unable to prove who inflicted all the injuries on the little boy.
“Neither defendant has ever given any explanation of those injuries. The state was left with a void. Frankly, I think both defendants should be held accountable,” he said, showing the judge several pictures of the bruised little boy.
Gregory asked that Villalobos serve a year in Douglas County Jail.
“Her conduct was wrong on many different levels,” he said.
He said she brought Marcyes into her home, which officials described as a “flop house,” lied about the injuries to her son, and left him alone in her boyfriend’s care knowing Marcyes had hurt him.
Gregory said Villalobos’ conduct was “despicable.”
“Is it ignorance? Is it arrogance? Or is it just a flippant attitude?” he asked. “When this came to light, her goal was to protect herself and Mr. Marcyes.”
Gregory said he wasn’t persuaded by the history of domestic violence in Villalobos’ life.
“When you make the decision to have a child, your sole responsibility is to take care of that child. The state’s position is what she did here was terrible. I want her to hear that from me,” he said.
Gibbons said the pictures of the injured toddler were “horrific.”
The child’s father testified at a May 13 hearing that his son was covered with bruises when he brought him home from the weekend with his mother. The father notified authorities about the injuries.
He and Villalobos shared custody of the child.
According to photos and court reports, in addition to the handprint on the little boy’s face, he had bruises on his back and buttocks.
Marcyes claimed that Villalobos inflicted the other injuries.
“Mr. Marcyes never took responsibility which leaves the door open maybe you did cause the injuries. There will always be the cloud of suspicion. If I were you, I would never engage in corporal punishment again,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons said knowing Villalobos’ background he could understand how and why the crime occurred, adding it was a one-time offense and the child recovered from his physical injuries.
Gibbons said he was confident the child was safe in his father’s care.
He ordered Villalobos to perform 100 hours of community service. She must abstain from drugs and alcohol, follow all recommendations of her counselor and obtain her high school diploma or equivalent.