November 26, 2007
An El Paso County jury took less than two hours Monday to convict a Colorado Springs man of trying to kill his two young children with a knife. Matthew Valverde, 46, will likely be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for 11 felony convictions, including two counts of attempted firstdegree murder.
Jurors also found Valverde guilty of five counts of assault — one for each stab wound; two counts of child abuse causing serious bodily injury; and two counts of attempted first-degree murder after deliberation. The two attempted-murder convictions could bring a maximum 96-year prison sentence. Valverde, who showed no emotion as the verdicts were read, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 28. “I’m glad he was found guilty of all charges,” said Valverde’s ex-wife, Farah Valverde. “It’s still so hard to believe all this stuff happened.” During the trial, prosecutors told jurors Matthew Valverde tried to kill his then-5-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son before stabbing himself because he was angry his wife was leaving him. She has since divorced him. Officers entered the family’s home in the 1200 block of Norwood Avenue on May 4, 2006, after Farah Valverde, who had moved out, went to check on the children and could not get in. Officers described for jurors a “horrific scene” they would never forget: Valverde lying on his blood-soaked water bed with a knife sticking out of his chest, his wounded children bleeding on each side of him. “Shhh. It’s OK. He’s just sleeping,” officers testified the boy told them. The Gazette is not naming the children because of their ages. Matthew Valverde slashed each child’s wrist to the bone, severing tendons and muscles, doctors testified. He also stabbed the girl twice in the back, puncturing her lung, and the boy once in the back. “His intent was that Farah Valverde would find them all in bed dead,” Deputy District Attorney Donna Billek said during closing arguments last week. “These two innocent kids were caught in the crossfire of a marriage that was falling apart. They trusted him and he violated that.” Both children testified during the trial, which started Nov. 13. The trial finished so late Wednesday that 4th Judicial District Judge Edward Colt had jurors to return this morning after the Thanksgiving holiday to begin deliberating. Valverde’s public defenders said that he was in a “fog of depression” over the failed marriage that morning and that he didn’t intend to kill the children. Deputy Public Defender Chad Miller urged jurors in his closing arguments to find Valverde guilty of attempted second-degree murder, which would have cut decades off a possible prison sentence. Farah Valverde said after the verdicts were announced she still feels guilty she left the children that night. “This was the ultimate betrayal,” she said. “It hurts even more because I still loved the guy. “If I thought for even one second that he might hurt them, I would have up and left with the kids. I just tried to keep life normal for them by leaving them at home — and he had always taken great care of the kids.” The children, she said, are doing well. “If you were to meet the kids, you would never know what happened to them,” she said. Unless you looked at the scars on a wrist of each child — something both are selfconscious about, Farah Valverde said. But they’re in counseling, doing well in school, climbing trees and monkey bars, she added. Despite what he did to them, Farah Valverde said the children still love and miss their father. “Will we ever see Daddy again?” the girl asked while driving home from the courthouse after testifying against him. Farah Valverde tells them their father is “sick in his thoughts” and that he must be punished for what he did to them. “Even after all this stuff, I never said anything bad about him to the children,” she said. “I never made Matt into a monster and I never will, either.” She does feel her ex-husband deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison for hurting his own children in “cold blood.” “I believe inside he’s dying,” she said. “He knows the reality of this. He knows, but hasn’t accepted it.” Matthew Valverde, who did not testify, is being held without bond at the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0110 or firstname.lastname@example.org