Guilty Plea in Toddler Death 01 Feb 12

A 21-year-old Olivia man offered a guilty plea Tuesday in the death of a toddler in his care, and a judge will now decide the severity of the sentence.

The West Central Tribune reports Sergio Turrubiates Jr. offered the guilty plea to an amended charge of murder in the second degree without intent — child endangerment in the death of 19-month-old Tiana Moore in December of 2010.

District Judge Dwayne Knutsen took the plea under advisement following a proceeding Tuesday in District Court in Olivia. It also included a hearing on whether Turrubiates acted with particular cruelty in the commission of the crime.

He could face up to 240 months in prison if the court finds that there were aggravating factors in the commission of the crime.

Turrubiates was caring for the child in her mother’s apartment in Olivia on Dec. 22, 2010, when she suffered multiple blunt force trauma injuries to her head. She died Dec. 24 at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.

Under terms of a plea agreement, the original second-degree murder charge, which included a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, would be dismissed. The presumptive sentence for the second-degree charge to which Turrubiates pleaded on Tuesday ranges from 153 to 216 months.

However, aggravating factors could increase it to the 240-month cap agreed to by the defense and prosecution.

The judge is expected to rule within several days on the aggravating factors.