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Sibling of dead Pueblo foster child receives $1.5 million in settlement with county

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- 13 Investigates has confirmed at least one sibling of the 15-month-old foster child who died while in the care of Pueblo County's Department of Human Services is set to receive $1.5 million from the county.

In July of 2020, the Pueblo County DHS placed Aiden Seeley, his elder brother, and a third sibling into foster care. All three were put in the foster home of 31-year-old Dacey Spinuzzi on the 400 block of South Coral Drive. Less than two months later, the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office said Aiden was murdered. 

According to transcripts from a court hearing obtained by 13 Investigates, prosecutors say the extent of Aiden's injuries included a fracture to his arm, a missing toenail, and a broken toe. Prosecutors went on to tell the judge that Aiden's injuries were "tantamount to torture."

Zalissa Abeyta and Bret Seeley, the parents of the 15-month old foster, are set to receive less than 10% of the entire $6 million settlement agreement with the county. 

Through a public records request, 13 Investigates obtained a copy of the settlement agreement between Pueblo County and the Seeley/Abeyta party. According to the agreement, Zalissa Abeyta and Bret Seeley are each set to receive $200,000. Their attorneys are set to receive a third of the $6 million agreement, while a second unidentified minor child will receive $1.5 million as well. 

Pueblo County would not confirm if the two minor children listed in the agreement are Aiden’s siblings.  In earlier reporting, 13 Investigates learned Rachel Abeyta is currently caring for Aiden’s elder brother who was placed in the Spinuzzi foster home. Rachel is named in the settlement as a 'conservator' and is responsible for handling a trust worth a million dollars for one of the unidentified minors listed in the settlement.

Another party, retracted in the document by Pueblo County, is set to receive $600,000 in the agreement.

The settlement says the entirety of the $6 million will be covered by their insurer, Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association Insurance Company.

Spinuzzi, the foster mother, and her boyfriend, 36-year old Ramondo Jones, were charged with the 15-month-old's alleged killing and abuse. Spinuzzi officially pled guilty to accessory to first-degree murder, a class four felony. This admission of guilt stems from a plea agreement with the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office. Prosecutors dismissed Spinuzzi's child abuse charge. As for Jones, he pled not guilty to a first-degree murder charge connected to Aiden's death. His jury trial is scheduled to begin in April.

13 Investigates reached out to Zalissa and Bret’s legal team, however, they have no comment. The records obtained by 13 Investigates include signatures from Zalissa, Bret, as well as their attorneys. 

During a Board of County Commissioners meeting in January, Pueblo County Commissioners voted to approve the language in the settlement with the Seeley/Abeyta party.

The settlement states that Pueblo County is not admitting to any wrongdoing, and the settlement agreement would release Pueblo County from all claims put forth by Zalissa Abeyta and Brett Seeley in regards to Aiden’s death. 

At this time, it's unclear if the courts have reviewed or approved the language in the $6 million settlement 

According to DHS reports obtained by 13 Investigates, Zalissa pled guilty to child abuse in June of 2020. A little more than a week later, Aiden and his two siblings were placed into Pueblo County DHS care after multiple reports of abuse. On September 21, 2020, three days after Aiden's passing, District Court Judge William Alexander ordered both of Aiden's siblings to be returned to their parents, Zalissa and Bret.

In December of the same year, one of Aiden’s siblings would be airlifted to Children's Hospital Denver's burn unit and was treated for second-degree burns on his feet and butt after an incident involving a bathtub. Both Bret and Zalissa currently face felony-level child abuse charges related to the incident. 

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Dan Beedie

Dan is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about Dan here.

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