Taegen Elise McKinney

November 11, 2005 - April 15, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial

Jose Garcia, who was 18 years old at the time, was playing a game with Taegen while she was covered in clothing from a laundry basket. Jose says that he accidentally "stepped" on Taegen while trying to jump over her. Jose says that he has no idea how Taegen got bruises from head to toe since he only stepped on her once. That's what Jose says, Jose is a liar! Taegen died from blunt force trauma to her head, neck, torso, arms and legs, children don't die from all of those injuries because someone accidentally stepped on them one time.

Jose would be in court five years after Taegen died from her injuries, having sat in jail for five years it was time to go to court. Charged with first degree intentional abuse of a child, still proclaiming he didn't kill her, now 23 years old he said:

"Never in a million years would I have hurt her. I never intentionally hurt her. Never. I could
never have hurt a baby or a child"

Jose was calm as he told about what he says happened that night. Though he was accused of beating Taegen and stomping on her chest after fighting with his girlfriend, he said when he last saw Taegen that night, she was fine, though he told Police that he after he accidentally stepped on her, she vomited blood. Jose says he cleaned her up, put a blanket around her and put her next to her baby sitter, Acacia. During his testimony, Jose said:

"Wow, what happened? What happened that night. I still feel a lot of hurt with the situation.
I mean she was just a baby. I still hurt over the situation"

In the home that night there were only four people, Jose, Acacia, Taegen and her brother Connor. Jose said that the incident had happened between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. and in court Acacia said that they waited almost six hours before going to a neighbors house to call 911. Acacia, who was 15 years old, said that Jose had been drinking beer and probably taken a lot of pills and that they got in to a fight and he had punched a wall, kicked some doors and choked her. Jose was apparently talking "weird" about things he was going to do and how he thought he was Lucifer. Acacia said that Jose had come over many times when she was baby sitting and he had never hurt the children in the past. Jose and Acacia watched one movie and started another before they became aware that Taegen was very still and her eyes were half open.

Jose said in court that even though he could now remember things from that night, that night he was suffering from short and long term memory. Memory wasn't needed because the evidence spoke all on its own.

Taegen had red tread marks on her stomach that matched Jose's shoes type and size, size ten and a half Reebok:

"Your make, your model, your shoe"
Deputy District Attorney - Robert Gentile

Jose said he had no idea how Taegen had become so bruised up:

"At that time I was still in a state of disbelief, a state of shock. I didn't know what was going on"

Jurors saw over 24 pictures of Taegen which clearly showed the shoe marks as well a as bruises all over her body:

"My opinion is that they were not accidental"
Assistant Chief Medical Examiner - Kurt Nolte

Jose had managed to break his hand that night and at first he told police that had hit his hand on a post on the way to the neighbors house to call for help. In court that day, he said he thought he had broken it during his fight with Acacia that night. Jewel McKinney, Taegan's mother testified about her daughter had been happy and loving:

"It's sad, I can't think about how she died. I can't think about what she went through"

In April of 2012, five years after Taegen died, after deliberating for eight and a half hours over two days, the jury found Jose Garcia guilty of first degree intentional abuse of a child resulting in death. Having been found guilty meant that he would automatically get life in prison, though that only meant that he wouldn't come up for parole for 30 years at which time he would be 53 years old:

"Taegen is gone, she's dead. She will never graduated, she never go to her prom.
Her mother
will never see her again"
Jury Foreman - Les Slade

There was a quiet celebration as Taegan's family, who filled up three rows in the court room, hugged each other after the sentenced was read. Jose's family sat quietly, though earlier in the day, Steve Garcia, Jose's father using the ninth commandment said that the accusations against his son were lies.

While Fred Jones, Jose's Lawyer said nothing to waiting reporters, Sarah Weaver, the Prosecutor said:

"I'm sad. Taegen still is gone and Taegen is still gone in such a horrible way. I'm
relieved in this case the system did work. I'm relieved the jury took their time.
I'm relieved Jose is going to be held accountable"

Les Slade said:

"We did our work and that's what is should be, what a jury should do. We all felt bad. His
life is ruined. His life is done, but we knew it was justice for Taegen. We had to find justice
for Taegen because she had no voice"

A rally was held to help raise awareness of child abuse. A friend of Jewel McKinney, Taegan's mother, held up a sign in support of child awareness.

"We're out here to bring awareness to our community about child abuse
and how local the problem is"
Jessica Giles

A prayer opened the rally where about 25 people came out to support Taegan's family in front of the museum::

"We hope it will help get Taegan's law passed to save and protect children"
Sherry Pinasco - Grandmother of Taegen

The McKinney family had been asking for stricter laws in New Mexico ever since Taegen died, they even asked for the death penalty as punishment for child abuse deaths. Siting that some child abusers only get five to ten years in prison, Sadie McDaniel said it just wasn't enough time for the crime.

Some people at the rally wore shirts that read "Stop Child Abuse" while others wore shirts that said "Pass Taegan's Law" and pins were passed out. A petition online had reached 12,000 signatures and it was reported that 146 cities in 42 states held rallies to support stricter penalties for child abusers and killers:

"We need to raise awareness so that we can make a difference:
Kelly Hart

"I hope everyone will understand that we need to be there for the kids that are abused"
Dana Pinasco - Aunt

Cody McKinney, Taegan's father and other supporters planned to meet with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson in hopes of getting revisions to laws about child abuse:

"Our greatest asset is our children. It's our job to protect that asset"

Site creators note: While I respect the pain and suffering that people go through after a child is abused to death,  I am of the opinion that we do not need any more laws named after deceased children, we need to start enforcing the laws that are already there. We can make law after law after law, we can't make people obey them. The only law we need is if if you kill a child while abusing that child, you WILL go to prison for the REST of your life, no parole, no plea deal, you don't leave prison alive.


Taegen Elise McKienny, 17 months old, of Aztec, went to be with her Heavenly Father Sunday, April 15, 2007. She was born November 11, 2005 to Cody and Jewel (connor) McKinney, in Farmington, and is and always will be their precious angel forever.

She was preceded in death by her great-grandparents, Art Thornton and Butch Thomspon; and great-grandmother, Anna Higgens.

Taegen is survived by her parents; grandparents, Paul Conner, Sherry and Bill Pinasco, Jan and Gene Hockenhull, all of Aztec, and Glenn and Dottie McKinney of Albuquerque; great-grandparents, Paul and Vikki Conner of Ramona, Calif., Charlene Thornton of Amarillo, Texas, Nikki Smith of Aztec, Sandra and George Wallace of Aztec, Maxine and Duane Burlingame of Washington, and Billie and Rick Smith of Aztec; great-great-grandparents, Mildred Ragsdale of Texas, and JoAnn Thompson of Texas; aunts, Jennifer Conner, Dana Pinasco, and Erica Hockenhull; uncle, Cy Tribbett, and cousins, Jaycie and Brodie, Candice McKinney and cousins, Alexis, Katelynn, and Brian; aunt and uncle, Missy and Matt Hockenhull, and cousins, Matison and Mialee; uncles, Jared Conner, Darcy Pinasco, Chad, Jonathon and Colt; and cousins, Calab, Chance, Colt Jr., and Caden McKinney; also great-uncles and aunts, Anna Smith and family, Lindsey Smith and family, Ricky Smith, Jamie Thornton, and great-cousins, Ashley and Artie, Lynn Thompson of Texas, Jeff and Cheryl of Texas, Jason and Tammy Thompson of Aztec, Marty and Lea McKinney of Oregon, Julie and Paul Gallegos of Albuquerque, Brenda and Archie Montoya of Nashville, Tenn., Louise and Michelle McKinney, and Holly and Ralph Chavez of Washington.

Honorary pallbearers will be Jared and Jennifer Conner, Conner, Colt, Chad and Candice McKinney, Darcy and Dana Pinasco, and Cy and Jaycie Tribbett.

This page was created on June 21, 2014
Death occurred in the state of New Mexico

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