BISBEE — A child abuse case that culminated in the death of a 2-year-old Douglas boy has been designated a complex case by a Cochise County Superior Court judge.
The designation means that attorneys on both sides of accused child killer Mario Toscano Jr.’s case will have more time to prepare for trial.
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 Superior Court Judge Timothy Dickerson to designate the case a “complex case.” In the motion, Powell mentions that dependency proceedings also are ongoing for Toscano’s infant daughter.
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.”
According to Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 8.2 (a)(3), which addresses time limits for a speedy trial, a defendant’s trial must be held no later than 150 days after the individual is arraigned, if the defendant is in custody.
But if the case is designated complex, then the time limit is extended and the trial must be held no later than 270 days after the defendant’s arraignment.
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.”
A dependency hearing is a court proceeding involving a minor, typically in cases of abuse or neglect.
Toscano was arrested 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. Detectives questioned hospital staff, the boy’s mother and Toscano. Following that, they obtained a search warrant and combed through the house where the child’s mother lived with the suspect, Toscano.
The boy, meanwhile, had been stabilized at Copper Queen Hospital and was then taken to Tucson, where he died on Jan. 7, authorities said. A grand jury indicted Toscano on the second-degree murder charge on Jan. 9.