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Abused toddler still clings to life

With his suspected abuser behind bars, a 19-month-old Modesto boy continued to fight for his life Sunday at a children's hospital in Oakland.

Roberto Valencia, 28, of Modesto turned himself over to police at 6 p.m. Saturday. He was arrested on suspicion of child abuse, torture and mayhem. The mayhem charge is associated with possible brain injuries to the child, said police spokesman Sgt. Craig Gundlach.

Valencia's mother called for help Friday afternoon when she found the boy injured at his home in the 400 block of Sixth Street. Police would not go into detail about the boy's injuries.

When emergency responders arrived, the child was unconscious. They took him to Doctors Medical Center and later to Children's Hospital & Research Center in Oakland.

Valencia also went to the hospital in Modesto, but was gone by the time detectives arrived.

The boy's mother was not at home when the ambulance arrived. Gundlach said she had taken a sibling to a doctor's appointment.

Valencia told police there was so much publicity surrounding the case, he didn't think he could elude authorities for long, Gund-lach said. Valencia already had two warrants for his arrest totaling $75,000. One was for felony domestic violence. The other was for misdemeanor traffic violations.

Gundlach wouldn't disclose what Valencia told police, if anything, regarding the boy's injuries.

"We don't comment on what a suspect has told us because those comments may never make it to a jury," he said, adding that a judge will have to decide whether Valencia's statement is meant to be public.

While investigators continue to learn more about the day the child was found unconscious, Gundlach said he couldn't share all of the discoveries.

Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at ehightower@modbee.com or 578-2382.

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