For the first time, we’re hearing from the sister of a 13-year-old northern New Mexico boy was tortured and murdered.
“Thomas was getting mad at Jeremiah and so he put him in the dog cage in the living room,” said AV, the sister of Jeremiah Valencia.
The body of Jeremiah Valencia was found in a shallow grave along a highway outside of Nambe in January. Police say there was evidence he was locked in a cage, beaten and starved.
His mother, Tracy Pena, her boyfriend, Thomas Ferguson, and his son, Jordan Nunez, were all arrested.
During a hearing to determine if Jordan Nunez, who lived in the home with the siblings, will be held in jail until trial, AV spoke about the role Nunez allegedly played on the day he died.
“He started to flip the cage and I told him just leave him alone but he didn’t and then he pulled him out and um, his head was just kinda dangling,” said AV.
AV says Nunez tried to wake Valencia up by pouring water on his face, but the boy never regained consciousness.
AV told prosecutors on the day Jeremiah was killed the boy was in bad shape.
“He was really skinny and um, he had um all his cuts were infected and um… he had a black eye and, and his tooths was knocked out,” said AV.
On the stand Wednesday, AV had a hard time remembering some details, saying the abuse is hard to think back to.
“I try and put it away,” said AV.
During closing arguments, prosecutors read key statements AV had given them. Including her testimony that Nunez would shock Jeremiah with a collar when Ferguson wasn’t around and that Nunez would poke Jeremiah with a spear Ferguson had made.
AV was the defense’s witness. The state did not cross-examine her, she also spent a large portion of her testimony talking about the abuse Ferguson inflicted on all of them.
“Like, he was always angry and he was always being mean to my mom or to me or anybody in the house,” said AV.
Not long after, Nunez’s own mother, referenced as AN, took the stand in his defense.
“He’s a big ‘ol wuss. He’s a baby,” said AN.
Nunez’s mother was married to Ferguson for 16 years and said he is nothing like her abusive ex-husband.
“He’s like a cuddly little teddy bear,” said AN.
However, during cross-examination prosecutors asked her to read a text message she sent to Ferguson saying otherwise.
It read,” He’s a hot head like you, so, be nice okay?”.
She also described what it was like living with Thomas Ferguson.
“He would make me write that I would abuse the kids and stuff like that so he could get away with whatever he did,” AN said.
It appears everyone is in agreement that Ferguson was the main abuser. However, the judge sided with the state, agreeing that Nunez was a willing participant in the abuse.
“It’s un-refuted that the defendant would flip the dog kennel while Jeremiah was in the dog kennel. There’s testimony from AV today that Jeremiah passed away after the defendant flipped the kennel for the last time,” said the judge.
The judge ruled Nunez will remain in jail until his March trial.
District Attorney Marco Serna confirmed his office is in plea discussions with Pena. However, nothing has been finalized.
Ferguson killed himself in jail.