LAS CRUCES, N.M. - A Las Cruces family told ABC-7 they've been abandoned by the justice system after allegations of a child beaten by a studded belt were dismissed.
Joseph Nava said his daughter has lived in fear of her mother for a year and a half.
He and his family were hoping for some sort of closure with a trial set to begin on Wednesday. Instead, the case was dismissed that morning. The family said they can't do anything about it.
"I thought it was (the deputy prosecutor's) job to fight for people who have been wronged. I thought he was supposed to stick up for us and it turns out that all he cares about is his conviction rate," Nava told ABC-7.
Nava said he and his daughter arrived in court on Wednesday ready for trial. Instead of choosing jurors, the deputy prosecutor dismissed the case.
"He told me that he felt there was a 50-50 chance that he could win, and that he refused to do the trial unless there was a 100 percent chance he could get a conviction," Nava said.
Court documents from 2011 show the girl's mother, Carie Demchok, confessed to spanking the girl with a studded belt in 2011.
"She claimed that (her daughter) was out of control at the time and she feared that she would injure herself if her tantrum was allowed to continue... She expressed regret over the injuries to her daughter which resulted from the spanking," the document reads.
Police said Demchok voluntarily handed over the belt she used after a search warrant executed at her home failed to find the belt.
The then 8-year-old girl had bruises on her buttocks and arms, according to the documents.
Nava said in the year and a half the case has been pending, he worked closely with the District Attorney's Office to build a case.
"When I talked to them about it, they said we have a strong case. We expect to win," Nava said.
He said ever since the change in administration within the D.A's office, he has felt neglected.
He said he was told on Thursday afternoon that the deputy prosecutor asked for the dismissal without newly sworn-in D.A. Mark D'Antonio's permission.
A spokeswoman from the D.A.'s office would not confirm that or answer any of ABC-7's questions.
She said D'Antonio is personally exploring all the options for this family.
Nava told ABC-7 D'Antonio promised he would look into re-indicting Demchok. Nava said he is hopeful his family can still find some kind of justice.
"There's nothing we can really do. We trusted in the court system. We trusted in the D.A. and they just threw us under the bus. My 8-year-old daughter that got beaten to that point is just a piece of paperwork to be thrown out," Nava said.
Demchok did not return ABC-7's phone calls.