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Titsworths face June 5 hearing in baby's death

May 08, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

With tears in her eyes, Hillary John Titsworth stood in Imperial County jail court Monday, her hands shackled and wearing orange jail overalls, and agreed to a time waiver that will delay her preliminary hearing.

Her husband, John Anthony Titsworth, stood next to her, also shackled, and agreed to the same delay.

That time waiver means the Titsworths, both charged with murder in the death of their 2-year-old daughter, Kateland Marie Titsworth, will face a preliminary hearing June 5.

At that hearing the District Attorney's Office will present evidence in its case against the Titsworths.

It will be the job of the DA's office at that hearing to show there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed and the defendants were involved in the crime.

The judge will then decide if there is sufficient evidence to bind over the Titsworths for trial and whether they will be tried on the charge of murder or a lesser charge.

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Along with the murder charge, the DA's office has filed a charge of assault on a child resulting in death.

During Monday's hearing, Superior Court Judge James Harmon asked the Titsworths if they understood the time waiver to which they were agreeing.

Both answered "yes."

The Titsworths, who live in Westmorland, have been held on $1 million bail each since April 11, two days after their daughter was pronounced dead at Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley.

An investigation into her death led authorities to arrest the Titsworths on suspicion of murder.

While the county Coroner's Office is awaiting toxicology results on Kateland, coroner's officials have said reports from Pioneers indicate there was an abnormally high level of sodium in Kateland's blood.

Coroner officials also have said there was a salt-like granulated substance found in her stomach.

Based on that information and information obtained by the DA's office during an interview with the Titsworth's 5-year-old son, Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen has alleged Hillary Titsworth force-fed her daughter table salt as a form of punishment.

Owen has said while she does not have evidence John Titsworth was involved in that action, she said there is no evidence he attempted to stop his wife. The murder charge against him stems from an allegation of aiding and abetting in the death.

While the Titsworths face a preliminary hearing June 5, Harmon set a pre-trial meeting for May 22.

Meanwhile, the County Counsel's Office this week was expected to file a court order asking that a judge allow the DA's office to have copies of any Child Protective Services reports related to the Titsworths.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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