KEARNS, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – It was a graduation party for her son, and it ended in a tragic way.
Kristina Valdez is now facing charges of child endangerment, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and allowing intoxication.
The charges stem after one of the partygoers, 17-year-old Julian Garcia-Morales died from hypothermia and alcohol after he left the party last February.
But Valdez is shocked she is being charged with these crimes.
“I did not kick him out,” she said. “I believed his sister was on his way.”
But that’s not the way police and prosecutors see it. This after finding the body of Garcia-Morales nearly three-weeks after leaving the party.
“When you’re hosting something like this and there are alcoholic beverages and you know the person is visibly compromised, you take on a certain responsibility,” said Sim Gill, Salt Lake’s district attorney.
Valdez denies supplying them any alcohol or marijuana.
“I didn’t know there was alcohol when I came up mad because of the noise with a broom and I could smell marijuana,” she said. “That’s when I said the party’s over, everyone has to leave.”
She said the teen didn’t smell of alcohol when she talked with him just before he left. Her son said Garcia-Morales told him he had a ride.
“Julian mentioned to me on multiple times throughout the night that his sister was going to pick him up and I even offered him a Uber,” said Fernando Valdez.
The mother said she didn’t know the 17-year-old was walking home. Her husband was outside watching everyone leave.
“That’s when my husband came back in and said he was walking and I said ‘no, he’s not going to walk, it’s freezing out there, let’s go give him a ride,'” Valdez said. “By the time we got to the car, we couldn’t find him.
Her son also sent several texts concerned about his whereabouts. But the teen never responded.
They searched but couldn’t find him. It was another three weeks before they learned what happened to Garcia-Morales. He had walked a blocked, turned right and a block later stumbled into a field. His body was about 10 yards from the roadway.
“I thought ‘oh my God, how horrible,” said Valdez when she learned they had found his body. “I was heartbroken. I still am.”
She doesn’t believe the charges are warranted and hopes to clear her name.
“I am not a bad mom,” Valdez said. “No, I am a good mom.”