- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The mother of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia will serve 12 years for failing to protect her son from ongoing abuse and a deadly beating.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that 38-year-old Tracy Ann Pena was sentenced Monday in Santa Fe for her role in the Nambe boy’s killing. She was actually sentenced to 21 years but had nine suspended as part of a plea deal.

Valencia’s body was found inside a plastic container in a roadside grave near Nambe in January 2018. Prosecutors say he died after months of abuse inflicted on him by 21-year-old Jordan Nunez and Nunez’s father, Thomas Ferguson. Pena was dating Ferguson at the time.

The abuse included being beaten with brass knuckles, choked and forced to wear diapers. Prosecutors say he was then beaten for several days after Thanksgiving 2017.

Pena did not speak. Her aunt and Valencia’s godmother, Celine Miera, asked the judge to sentence Pena to the maximum penalty.

“How in the world could a mother let someone beat, torture and kill her son?” Miera said. “There were options.”

Nunez pleaded guilty in March to reckless permitting of child abuse resulting in death and tampering with evidence. He hasn’t been sentenced but faces up to 24 years in prison.

Ferguson died by suicide in April 2018 at the Santa Fe County jail.

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