BISBEE — A criminal case classified as “complex” by a judge could be resolved in early 2021 if the accused killer of a 2-year-old Douglas boy accepts a plea offer.
At a hearing Monday in Cochise County Superior Judge Timothy Dickerson’s courtroom, defense attorney Rodrigo Andrade and Assistant Cochise County Attorney Michael Powell informed the judge that they prefer to resolve the matter against Mario Toscano Jr. rather than take it to trial.
Andrade told Dickerson that the state had “offered an option on Thursday.” Powell said initially the offer came from the defense, but both attorneys had to agree on the deal.
“I am hopeful the case may end up actually resolving,” Powell said Monday.
Initially, the case against Toscano was deemed “complex” by Dickerson after Powell requested the classification this past summer. There are several factors involved in the matter, among them the circumstances surrounding the death of the child, Powell had said at an earlier hearing.
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.”
Also, Powell had said the case would go to trial and that a plea offer would not be extended to Toscano. Regardless, Dickerson ordered that a settlement conference take place. Last week, Powell told the Herald/Review that a settlement was not achieved during that session, but an agreement was reached between the prosecution and the defense a few days later.
Andrade said Monday that he would mail the current plea offer to Toscano, who is in custody at the Santa Cruz County Jail in Nogales, then meet with his client to discuss it. Toscano did not appear by video at Monday’s hearing after jail officials did not make him available.
Santa Cruz County Jail Corporal David Monreal told the Herald/Review on Monday that Toscano’s attorney did not inform the jail that Toscano had a hearing.
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.
The suspect was arrested in Douglas by the sheriff’s office on Jan. 5 after investigators were notified by staff at the emergency room of Douglas’ Copper Queen Hospital that the child was not breathing and had questionable injuries, records show.
Detectives questioned hospital staff, the boy’s mother, Erika Parra, and Toscano. Following those interviews, they obtained a search warrant and combed through the house where Parra lived with Toscano, the victim and a baby girl.
The boy, meanwhile, had been stabilized at Copper Queen Hospital and was then taken to Tucson, where he died a few days later, authorities said. A grand jury indicted Toscano on the second-degree murder charge on Jan. 9.
Dickerson scheduled a hearing for Jan. 11, 2021.
“I want him (Toscano) here for that,” the judge said. “If there won’t be a plea, I want to set a trial date.”