HOUSTON -- A mother sentenced to 20 years in prison for starving her weeks-old son to death in 2004 has been released from prison after serving just seven months.
Jolene Valencia was freed in February due to good behavior and state parole guidelines, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Saul Castillo died at 8 weeks old. His father, Adrian Castillo Sr., who faces neglect charges, remains at large. The couple’s three other children are in the custody of Child Protective Services, after a judge terminated their parental rights.
"She had a limited criminal history and a satisfactory institutional adjustment," said Troy Fox, administrator for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, in explaining Valencia’s release. She must check in with a parole officer for the next 15 years.
"It’s unfortunately all too common," said Marci Hamilton, a law professor and child protection expert.
"Too often we get someone who is engaging in child abuse, and they’re able to plead down to much lesser charges than if they had harmed an adult," said Hamilton.
Valencia was convicted of bodily injury to a child by failing to obtain adequate medical care for Saul, who weighed slightly more than 5 pounds when he died, nearly a pound less than his birth weight, records show.
The parents took the child to a Houston hospital on Oct. 26, 2004. Valencia told staffers that the baby had trouble eating.
"A nurse came by and noticed the child appeared deceased," a CPS caseworker wrote in her report to State District Judge Michael Schneider. "She (the nurse) took the child from the parents and started to attempt to revive the child. The parents asked if they could leave while the medical staff was working on the child."
The Chronicle report late Sunday said Saul’s medical records show his birth was normal, at 5 pounds, 15 ounces, and his discharge was routine.
Valencia and Castillo were then arrested and charged with injury to a child. Valencia spent at least 30 months behind bars, mostly in the Harris County Jail, before the couple posted bond and disappeared to Mexico with their other two sons. They later had a daughter, records show.
A 2009 traffic stop in Houston led to Valencia’s re-arrest, and she was held for 7 months. She admitted taking the children to Mexico, but said they had since returned to the United States.
Authorities said she served a total five years—the remaining 2 ½ years were earned in "good time" credits—meaning she had spent enough time behind bars to earn her release on parole.
"It’s just wrong," said Hamilton, about letting child abusers out as early as Valencia. "A starvation death is a horrible death it’s sending a terrible signal to parents and caretakers who are not adequately taking care of their children."
Prosecutors declined comment.
The judge would not comment on Valencia’s parole, saying that the decree he signed forever terminating her rights to her children speaks for itself.
Mom whose baby starved to death freed after serving 7 months of 20-year prison sentence | khou.com | khou.com Local News
Now this is just wrong! Bitch needs to stay in jail and suffer for what she did