Family mourns loss of toddler

By Chelle Delaney: Freedom New Mexico

Thomas Lee Prieto had a favorite blanket, a favorite cartoon character — SpongeBob SquarePants — and an outgoing personality.

“He was like Linus with his blanket,” said his mother, Monique Garcia.

“When you’d go to the grocery store, he’d say hi to everybody,” said Rachel Garcia, Thomas’ grandmother.

The 2-year-old Tucumcari boy died Sept. 20 at an Amarillo hospital. Officials say he suffered spinal and brain hemorrhaging. Monique Garcia’s boyfriend of two years, Marcos Martinez, 22, is charged with an open count of murder and child abuse.

Martinez was babysitting Thomas while his mother worked at McDonald’s, where she is a manager, Monique Garcia said.

“He’s watched him (Thomas) before. I never thought he’d do something to hurt my son,” Monique Garcia said.

“His story was that (Thomas) was jumping on the bed and he fell.”

Garcia said law enforcement officials told her Thomas’ injuries