BISBEE — The aunt of a 2-year-old boy who died after authorities said the toddler was beaten by his mother’s boyfriend, said she is seeking justice for her nephew.
Katerina Smith attended a hearing Monday for alleged child killer Mario Toscano Jr. The latter is charged with the death of 2-year-old Emilio Smith in early January in Douglas. Toscano was not the biological father of Emilio Smith.
“I hope justice is served,” Smith said, her eyes filling with tears. “And it will be, for everyone.”
In the hearing Monday before Cochise County Superior Court Judge Timothy Dickerson, attorneys requested a continuance for a status hearing because several reports, including forensic and police reports, still must be shared with Toscano’s defense attorney, Rodrigo Andrade.
Toscano is charged with second-degree murder, child abuse, and aggravated assault in the death of the toddler. The child died on Jan. 7 at a Tucson hospital, Cochise County Sheriff’s Office investigators said.
Last month, deputy county prosecutor Michael Powell filed a motion asking Dickerson to designate the case a “complex case.” In the motion, Powell mentions that dependency proceedings also are ongoing for Toscano’s infant daughter.
A dependency hearing is a court proceeding involving a minor, typically in cases of abuse or neglect.
In 2005, the Arizona Court of Appeals defined a complex case as, “a case so complicated by virtue of its nature or because of the evidence required, that the ordinary limits for the time to trial are insufficient and must be extended to afford more time to prepare so that the case can be fairly and fully presented.”
Powell wrote that because a toddler died, the state “anticipates substantial medical evidence and expert testimony. Dependency proceedings involving the defendant’s infant daughter are ongoing and there may be overlap between the criminal and dependency cases. This is a complex case.”
After the hearing Monday, an aunt of Toscano’s hugged Smith in the lobby area outside the courtroom and told her she was sorry for what had happened to Emilio.
Dressed in a white T-shirt with Emilio’s smiling face emblazoned on the front, Smith said the toddler “was very loved when he was with our family.”
Smith, who also lives in Douglas, said Emilio had stayed with her and her children and the boy’s paternal grandmother several times and that he was happy and thriving.
“My mother-in-law wanted him, she offered to take him, but (Emilio’s) mother would not even let us see him,” Smith said.
People who saw the boy on New Year’s Eve told Smith that the child had two black eyes.
“They blamed the injury on his 1-year-old sister,” Smith said, referring to the child Emilio’s mother shares with Toscano. “They said she hit him with a softball.”
For the last couple of months, Smith's mother-in-law has been organizing small gatherings in Douglas that include marches for justice for Emilio and for other victims of child abuse. A march was held Sunday.
Another relative who was with Smith at the hearing owns a flower shop in Douglas and she said there are pictures of the youngster at the business so that no one forgets what happened to him.
Toscano’s trial has been scheduled for May 19.