The Justice Files: Family seeks truth about teen’s death


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – For nearly three weeks no one heard from Julian Garcia. His sister and family members had no idea what happened to him.

In late February, they learned he had died from hypothermia after falling in a field covered with snow.

But how he ended up there is what has Garcia’s family members upset.

Last week, Kristina Valdez was charged with child endangerment, allowing alcohol at her home and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The 17-year-old was attending a birthday party at Valdez’s home the night he disappeared.

“I don’t think he suffered,” said Karina Garcia, Julian’s sister. “Maybe he passed out and that’s when he closed his eyes and was already gone.”

An autopsy showed that Garcia died from hypothermia and his blood alcohol content was twice the legal limit.

It was a tragic ending and his manner of death still haunts his sister.

“There was a lot going through my head on what he was going through that night,” she said. “Like was he praying to God? Was he thinking about his family? Was he asking for help?”

According to police, Garcia became belligerent and was ordered to leave the home by Valdez. That’s when he began walking home late at night in a February snow storm.

According to the charges, Valdez claimed “he was very intoxicated … and that “he needed to leave.”

“(Valdez) didn’t tell me she had kicked him out, she had told my ex-boyfriend that and she told the detectives,” said the sister. “She had told my boyfriend that when she went upstairs Julian was making a lot of noise.”

Last week, Valdez told ABC4 she never singled Julian out.

“I didn’t know there was alcohol when I came up mad because of the noise with a broom,” said Valdez. “I could smell marijuana and that’s when I said the party’s over, everyone has to leave.”

Valdez claimed Julian told others that his sister was planning to pick him up. But Garcia said she never received a call.

Valdez also told ABC4 it was a graduation party.

“My little brother had said it’s a birthday party,” Garcia said. “I just want them to say the truth, what really happened.”

Garcia said her family suffered for three weeks not knowing what happened to Julian. She claimed Valdez expressed anger, not sympathy when they came to her home looking for him.

“I don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” Garcia said. “I don’t want any other family to go through this.”


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