Utah mom charged after teen left her drinking party and died, police say

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KEARNS — A Kearns woman who held a birthday party for her son that police say included underage drinking and drug use now faces criminal charges alleging that a teenager who was kicked out of her house passed out and died.

Kristina Theresa Valdez, 40, was charged Thursday in 3rd District Court with endangerment of a child, a third-degree felony; contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a class B misdemeanor; and permitting intoxication, a class C misdemeanor.

The body of Julian Garcia, 17, was discovered in a field near 5800 West and 5600 South on Feb. 27. He had been missing for 18 days by that point, according to police. An autopsy concluded the boy died of hypothermia and that his blood-alcohol level was 0.10 percent and that he had THC in his system, according to charging documents.

Julian was last seen on Feb. 9 by his sister who dropped him off at Valdez's house, near 5800 South and 6000 West, where Valdez was throwing a birthday party for her son, the charges state.

When interviewed by Unified police after Julian's body was found, Valdez and her son both said Julian "became very intoxicated" and was told to leave "due to his behavior."

The son and his friends were drinking and smoking marijuana prior to Julian walking away from the house just after midnight, according to the charges.

Julian was wearing "very light clothing" when he left. Police believe after he passed out in a field, his body was covered by snow and was not discovered until the snow melted.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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