It was a case that rocked the state of New Mexico. In January, the body of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia was found in a shallow grave along a highway outside of Nambe.
Investigators said Thomas Ferguson, the boyfriend of Jeremiah’s mother, had continuously abused him, put him in a dog crate and urinated on him.
Ferguson’s son, Jordan Nunez, told police his father beat Jeremiah to death.
Now, Ferguson is dead after committing suicide in jail.
Jeremiah’s mother, Tracy Pena, is also charged with child abuse for her involvement in the boy’s death.
Last week, the Santa Fe County District Attorney’s office filed a motion to prevent Pena’s 13-year-old daughter from testifying.
In June, Pena’s defense requested a pre-trail interview with her.
Pena’s attorney, Michael Rosenfield, says the purpose of that pre-trial interview would be “to see what she has to say.”
However, in the new motion, prosecutors say making her rehash the abuse would affect her mental health and the progress she has made, according to the girl’s therapist.
In warrants from the case, Tracy Pena spoke with her daughter shortly after Valencia’s body was found, saying things like, “Cooperate with investigators, tell them what happened,” and, “Everyone is going to think I killed your brother, but you know the truth.”
What’s more, warrants say Jordan Nunez, who is also charged in the boy’s death, told investigators that Ferguson threatened to kill all of them if they went to police — something the sister may be able to confirm.
Pena’s attorney would not elaborate on what he’s hoping the girl will say in an interview, but in his initial request to prosecutors, he said, “Time is of the essence.”
A hearing will be held next week to determine if Pena’s daughter will testify in a pre-trial interview.