A plea offer is on the table from the defense attorney of a man accused of beating a 2-year-old boy to death last year in Douglas.
At a hearing Tuesday morning, Joel Larson, the lawyer representing Mario Toscano Jr., told the court that a plea offer had been made and “it hasn’t been rejected.”
Toscano, 22, is charged with killing the toddler in Douglas in January 202O. The victim’s mother was charged with child abuse, but never showed up in court and has yet to be arrested.
The assistant prosecutor in the case offered Toscano a plea deal last year, but the defendant rejected it and asked the court for a new defense attorney because he was disappointed with the way his lawyer handled the plea negotiation. At the time, the deal offered by Assistant Cochise County Attorney Michael Powell stipulated 35 years to life in prison for Toscano.
It’s not clear what the defense is offering the state in the current plea deal, but a Donald hearing has been scheduled before Cochise County Superior Court Judge Timothy Dickerson on July 6. During a Donald hearing, a judge normally informs the defendant of the terms of an offer. The judge may also explain that if the defendant chooses to go to trial, the penalties could be stiffer if the defense loses.
Toscano’s former defense lawyer, Rodrigo Andrade, advised his client last year to accept the state’s plea offer. Andrade said in court he told Toscano that if he lost at trial, it could be worse.
A trial on the matter is set for Nov. 2 and it’s expected to last three weeks. Dickerson said Tuesday he would like the attorneys on both sides to make some decisions by the July hearing regarding the plea offer and/or the trial.
Toscano is being held at the jail in Santa Cruz County.