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Father who kidnapped girl gets 99-year term in death Puerto Rican court also jails mother

Victor Miranda will spend the rest of his life in prison for beating his little girl to death.

The girl's mother will spend four years in jail for failing to stop him.

Last October, the couple kidnapped their daughter, Amnerys, and their son from foster care on Buffalo's West Side and spirited them to Puerto Rico. The bruised and battered little girl died there two months later, three days before Christmas.

Miranda pleaded guilty in Puerto Rico to several charges, including murder and abuse, and was sentenced this summer to 99 years in prison, with no chance of parole.

In a separate trial in the same court, Danaries Valentin, the mother, pleaded guilty to failing to protect an endangered child. She was sentenced to four years, with no chance of parole.

While the legal book is closed on the girl's parents, prosecutors in Puerto Rico said a case remains to be made against Miriam Santana, Amnery's paternal grandmother, whose last known residence was in Buffalo.

Blance Portela, the assistant district attorney in Mayaguez who prosecuted the parents in Puerto Rico, first expressed her suspicion of Santana's involvement in an interview with The Buffalo News in February. Since then, she said, investigators have compiled evidence that Santana was involved in both the abduction and family's two months on the run.

"I don't have any doubt about it," Portela said. "She helped them in New York, and she helped them in Puerto Rico. She knew everything all the time."

While her office has worked with the Erie County Department of Social Services on prosecuting the parents, Portela said the district attorney's office here has been non-responsive.

"I notified them when we prosecuted [the parents], but they never called me back or asked me about it," she said.

The grandmother would have to be prosecuted in Erie County, Portela said, because that's where the abduction occurred.

District Attorney Frank J. Clark was out of town and could not be reached for comment. Roseanne E. Johnson, his deputy prosecutor for abuse cases, said her office had a call in to prosecutors in Puerto Rico and was "looking into the matter."

Andres Gracia, president of Western New York Hispanics and Friends Civic Association, said Clark's office needs to act.

"My God, this was a murder; they killed that little girl," he said. "I wish the prosecutor would at least take a look at the evidence and proceed."

Amnerys, who was 1 1/2 when she died, suffered a lifetime of abuse.

She was hospitalized twice before she was 3 months old with injuries that includes a broken leg, four broken ribs, deep bruises and brain bleeds consistent with shaken baby syndrome.

Family Court judges determined the girl's parents were responsible for her first round of injuries, her paternal grandmother for the second, but no criminal charges were filed.

Amnerys and her older brother were placed in foster care, and the parents lobbied vigorously to regain custody. When those efforts failed, the couple, using prostitutes posing as social workers, tricked the foster parents into leaving the children for what turned out to be an unsupervised visit at the couple's apartment Oct. 25. Miranda and Valentin fled with the children before the foster parents returned.

The family made their way to Puerto Rico, where Amnerys died Dec. 22, on her mother's birthday, after being taken to the hospital.

An autopsy revealed a broken wrist, a concussion and 31 bruises, most in her torso and mouth.

"The judge was very mad about what happened," said Portela, the prosecutor.

Valentin's sentence could have been as light as probation, instead of the four years she received.

In addition to her jail term, the mother lost custody of the baby boy she gave birth to this spring. The child is in foster care in Puerto Rico.

The couple's other son, Giovanne, now 4, was returned to Buffalo in January and placed in a different foster home. Authorities say they do not believe the boy was abused by his father.

e-mail: jheaney@buffnews.com

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