An Illinois woman —called a “monster” by her own brother and a “demon” by a judge — has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for fatally beating her 4-year-old son to death.
Crystal Valdez was convicted in September of first-degree murder for the killing of her son, Christopher. During her trial, a medical examiner testified that the boy died of a “total of 54 blunt-force injuries, both internal and external,” according to court records.
Joe Valdez, her brother, found the dead boy’s body “covered in bruises” on a bed in the small Chicago house Crystal Valdez shared with her husband, Cesar Ruiz, and their three other children, according to court records. It was the day after Thanksgiving, November 25, 2011 — the boy’s fourth birthday.
On Wednesday, Crystal Valdez was sentenced for the killing, and her brother faced her in court. “You’re a monster,” he told her, before Cook County Judge Stanley Sacks gave her 35 years in prison, according to the Chicago Trubune.
Ruiz, Crystal Valdez' husband and Christopher’s father, was tried seperately, convicted and sentenced in 2014 to 75 years in prison by Judge Sacks, according to the Chicago Tribune. When he sentenced Ruiz, Judge Sacks said the case was the among the most horrific he had ever seen as a judge.
“This is right near the top, maybe at the top,” Judge Sacks said, rejecting Ruiz’s plea for mercy.
On Wednesday, when he sentenced Valdez, Judge Sacks said, “We have two demons in this case."
"She didn't care about that boy at all," the judge added.
There was no direct evidence that the mom beat Christopher, but prosecutors told jurors that: "Circumstantial evidence speaks loud. It speaks loud in this case. Circumstantial evidence is simply this: your common sense,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
Her defense team pointed to evidence that she was developmentally disabled, with a low I.Q. in the 50s, the newspaper reported.
But the jury never actually heard that, because Judge Sacks disallowed it, saying that proof of diminished mental capacity is not a defense to criminal behavior in Illinois, the newspaper said.
The jury also did not hear about Ruiz’s conviction.
Crystal Valdez’s brother testified that after he discovered the body of the boy he punched his sister in the face while her sister in law, who was also there, asked “What did you do?"
At that point, Crystal Valdez pointed to Ruiz and said “He did it” or “It was him,” according to testimony from her brother and sister in law.
Ruiz replied: “And so did you,” adding “You helped me” and “She hit him first,” both also testified, according to court records.
The killing raised concerns about the child welfare system in Chicago, because the summer before the killing Crystal admitted to police that she hit Christopher, which resulted in a conviction of misdemenaor domestic battery, according to the Chicago Tribune.
A seperate investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services concluded that the allegations of abuse against Christopher were “unfounded,” and the boy was allowed to stay in his parents' custody, the newspaper reported.
A month later, Christopher was dead.
[Photos: Cook County Sheriff's Office]