ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Pamela Esparza will spend more than a decade behind bars for her role in the death of four-year-old James Dunklee after pleading guilty to child abuse, child abandonment resulting and failure to report.

Story continues below

Back in 2019, Esparza let Krista Cruz and her four-year-old son James Dunklee stay with her. Over four months, Esparza’s boyfriend, Zerrick Marquez, beat the young boy. Two months before his death, Dunklee was taken to the hospital with bruises all over his body. Esparza told the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department that her two-year-old daughter attacked him.

In court, Judge Stanley Whitaker sentenced her to 13 years followed by five years of supervised probation. Marquez was sentenced to life in prison for the crime. Cruz is scheduled to be sentenced on December 4.