Separate trials sought for couple charged in the death of 2-year-old daughter

January 18, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The case of a mother accused of causing the death of her 2-year-old daughter by feeding her a toxic amount of salt could start the trial process Tuesday, although settlement discussions are taking place.

Attorneys for Hillary Titsworth, who is charged with first-degree murder, and her husband, John Anthony Titsworth, who is charged with lesser counts, are expected to argue Tuesday the Titsworths should be tried separately.

Attorneys expected to argue the matter this week, but the judge set to hear the case, Matias Contreras, was unavailable.

The Titsworths' case stems from the April 9 death of their daughter, Kateland. Westmorland residents Hillary and John Titsworth were arrested on suspicion of murder and the District Attorney's Office filed murder charges against both.

The charges against John Titsworth were later reduced to child abuse and being an accessory after the fact.

The DA's Office is continuing to pursue a first-degree murder charge against Hillary Titsworth.


It has been argued in court that she force-fed her daughter salt as a form of punishment. Imperial County Coroner's Office investigators have reported Kateland died from salt poisoning.

On Thursday, attorney Poli Flores of El Centro, who is representing Hillary Titsworth, said talks are ongoing with the DA's Office toward working out "a resolution to this case short of a trial."

Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen confirmed there are ongoing settlement discussions but she said that is a common process. She added the DA's Office has made no offers to either Titsworth.

John Titswoth is being represented by attorney Chris Yturralde of El Centro.

When asked what kind of offer from the defense she would accept in the case of Hillary Titsworth, Owen said only that she would not accept an involuntary or voluntary manslaughter plea.

The plea agreement issue could be discussed during Tuesday's proceedings.

Hillary Titsworth remains in custody on $1 million bail. John Titsworth also remains in custody on $50,000 bail.

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

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