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Titsworths divided over rights to speedy trial

May 29, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

John Anthony Titsworth, charged with his wife in the murder of their 2-year-old daughter, today told a Superior Court judge he wants a speedy trial.

Titsworth's comments came during a pre-trial hearing in the county jail court this morning for Titsworth and his wife, Hillary.

Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen, assigned to prosecute the Titsworths, told Superior Court Judge Joseph Zimmerman that Hillary Titsworth has confessed to force-feeding salt to her daughter, Kateland.

Owen said she plans to argue it was salt poisoning that caused Kateland's death April 9.

Before today's hearing, attorneys for the Titsworths and Owen met to discuss delaying the preliminary hearing set for June 5.

The attorneys then came back into court and Zimmerman said the parties had agreed to delay the preliminary hearing, at which evidence would officially be presented, until June 26.

When Zimmerman asked Hillary Titsworth if she would agree to waive her rights to a speedy trial, she answered "yes."

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Zimmerman then asked a tearful John Anthony Titsworth if he was willing to waive his speedy trial right. He responded he wanted a speedy trial.

Based on that comment, Zimmerman decided the preliminary hearing against both Titsworths will be on the June 5 date.

Moments before Zimmerman announced that decision, Owen said in court that she will argue during the preliminary hearing that Hillary Titsworth confessed to force-feeding salt to Kateland. She also will argue that salt led to Kateland's death.

Owen has said there is evidence Hillary Titsworth fed salt to Kateland as a form of punishment.

County coroner's officials have stated that toxicology results on Kateland show there was a dangerous level of salt in her system and the level could not have come from normal consumption.

An official autopsy report, separate from the toxicology report, has yet to be released on Kateland, although that report could be made available this week.

The Titsworths, both of Westmorland, remain in county jail with bail set at $1 million each.

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

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