An Illinois mother convicted of fatally beating her son on his fourth birthday learned her fate this week inside a Cook County courtroom.
A jury found mother-of-four Crystal Valdez, 35, guilty of the first-degree murder of her youngest son, Christopher. As of Wednesday, Valez and her live-in boyfriend, Cesar Ruiz, have both been sentenced in connection with the 4-year-old’s beating death.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Valdez’s sister-in-law testified that she and her husband, Valdez’s brother, had discovered Christopher’s body when they came over to give him birthday gifts. Valdez’s brother had climbed through a window when Crystal didn’t enter the door. From there, she tried to prevent her brother from entering a bedroom—where the battered body lay wrapped in blankets.
“You don’t deserve the title of mother,” Joseph Valdez told his killer sister in court, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“You’re a monster.”
Crystal’s father and his wife have custody of the mother’s three remaining children. The Tribune reported that the mother was spotted wiping away tears as lawyers read letters from the three children where they said they loved and missed her and didn’t want to only talk to her through Skype.
Ruiz and Crystal had previously blamed one another for the child’s 2011 beating death. Not only was Judge Stanley Sacks unconvinced that Ruiz acted alone, he swiftly dismissed defense’s claims that Crystal had a low IQ and that she was passive in her relationships that often involved abusive men, including Ruiz.
Multiple warning signs presented themselves before Christopher’s beating death. The Tribune wrote that relatives who attended a baby shower noticed that Christopher had a black eye poorly covered up with makeup. A neighbor also witnessed Crystal smack the boy in his face.
On Thanksgiving—a day before Christopher would be found dead—Crystal pulled up her son’s shirt to reveal his torso covered in bruises.
The newspaper noted that Christopher was hospitalized the summer prior to his murder, had a sizable bump on his head, and bruises all over his body. Crystal initially claimed the injuries were mosquito bites, but was convicted of domestic violence that fall after admitting to hitting her son.
Despite her conviction, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services determined abuse allegations involving Christopher were “unfounded” and closed the case against his mother.
The Sun-Times reported that the judge allowed Crystal to have two minutes with her each of her children before being hauled off to prison. The judge informed Crystal that she wasn’t to touch the children. When Crystal reached out to fist bump her 11-year-old daughter—her youngest child and the only one to remain in the courtroom—a sheriff’s deputy knocked the girl’s hand away.
The tween left the courtroom in tears, according to the newspaper.
“We have two demons in this case,” Sacks said of Ruiz and Crystal while imposing the 35-year sentence on Wednesday.
“She didn’t care about that boy at all.”
[Feature Image: Crystal Valdez/Cook County Sheriff’s Office; Christopher Valdez/Facebook]