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Murder trial for Hillary Titsworth slated

June 21, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Hillary Titsworth, the Westmorland woman charged with the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, will face trial Aug. 7, it was decided in Superior Court in El Centro on Wednesday.

Her husband, John Anthony Titsworth, will be tried at the same time on charges of child abuse and being an accessory after the fact.

Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen said the two could be tried together despite facing separate charges tied to the April 9 death of their daughter, Kateland Titsworth.

Hillary Titsworth remains in the county jail on $1 million bail after she was bound over earlier this month to stand trial for murder.

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Her husband, initially charged with murder, had his bail reduced to $50,000 after Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Jones determined there was not enough evidence to sustain a murder charge.

Jones did rule there was enough evidence for the lesser charges of child abuse and being an accessory after the fact.

John Titsworth remained in the county jail today.

The Titsworths were arrested April 11, two days after their daughter was pronounced dead in Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley.

Their arrest came after two days of investigation by both Westmorland police and the county Sheriff's Office.

The DA's Office has alleged Kateland died of salt poisoning after she was force-fed salt by her mother as a form of punishment.

A coroner's report and toxicology results confirmed salt poisoning as the cause of death, authorities have said.

During a preliminary hearing, Owen played a taped interview with Hillary Titsworth in which she told investigators she forced her daughter to consume salt twice in a matter of moments. The second time her daughter went limp, she said on the tape.

Owen has alleged that rather than call for help immediately, the Titsworths took steps to cover up what had happened.

Authorities say they gave Kateland a bath, dressed her in fresh clothing, tried to feed her milk to revive her and placed towels around her.

When she did not respond, Hillary Titsworth went to a neighbor's home and called for help.

Pioneers' staff attempted to revive Hillary but were unable to do so.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached 337-4082.

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