SANTA FE — A woman who was acquitted of killing an infant at a Santa Fe motel in March 2017 got credit for time served while awaiting trial for convictions on lesser charges and will no longer be incarcerated.
In a trial that began in June, Rachel Smith, 27, was found not guilty of child abuse resulting in death after she was charged killing 3-month-old Jonathan Valenzuela at the Thunderbird Inn on Cerrillos Road. Smith was babysitting Jonathan and his older sister for their then 17-year-old mother.
But Smith was found guilty of one count of obstructing an investigation of child abuse and neglect for initially lying to police about being the children’s mother as well as one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Smith faced two years in jail on those convictions. But since she was arrested in March 2017 and was later put on house arrest, which counts as incarceration, Smith faces no additional jail time.
“You have no further sentence to serve in this case,” Santa Fe District Court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer told Smith at a sentencing hearing Tuesday.
According to Smith’s testimony at trial, Jonathan stopped breathing when she was feeding him with a bottle around 5 a.m. March 11, 2017. Smith went outside her motel room and started screaming for help, prompting bystanders to come to her aid. Police arrived and were unable to revive Jonathan.
Although Smith, who said she was addicted to heroin at the time, had admitted to using heroin the night before, she has always denied hurting the infant. Smith has since sought treatment for her addiction, and Marlowe Sommer urged Smith to continue her treatment on Tuesday.
Investigators initially believed Smith may have suffocated Jonathan by accidentally rolling on top of him as she slept, but an autopsy later revealed that he died of blunt force trauma to the head.
One of Smith’s lawyers, Stephen Aarons, argued that Jonathan’s mother, Angel Arellano, caused the fatal injuries before leaving the children with Smith, which Arellano denied.