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REDWOOD CITY — Prosecutors in San Mateo County will seek the death penalty against a 29-year-old Redwood City man accused of sexually assaulting and killing a 17-month-old girl left in his care.
Daniel Contreras is charged with murder with the special circumstance that he killed the girl — identified by prosecutors as Evelyn — while committing a forcible lewd act, assault on a child causing death, and forcible lewd acts on a child, said Deputy District Attorney Sean Gallagher.
At a court hearing Monday, prosecutors informed the court they would be seeking the death penalty in the case.
The last death penalty case to be tried in the county was in 2006, when Alberto Alvarez was charged with the murder of East Palo Alto police Officer Richard May. A jury found Alvarez guilty two years later and recommended that he receive the death penalty.
James McNair Thompson, one of Contreras’s two court-appointed lawyers, said his client’s case, while sad, does not merit the death penalty.
“Even they would not contend it was an intentional homicide,” Thompson said about the District Attorney’s Office. “Even if they prove everything they think they can prove, this is not an appropriate death penalty case.”
Gallagher said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe decided to seek the death penalty against Contreras following an “extensive background investigation” and discussions with members of his staff.
“He ultimately makes a decision based on what he feels justice requires,” Gallagher said. “It was an extraordinarily horrific crime against one of the most vulnerable members of our society,” he continued. “The crime just exhibits a complete lack of humanity.”
Prosecutors announced their intention to seek the death penalty against Contreras at a court hearing Monday.
Richard Keyes, Contreras’ other court-appointed lawyer, withdrew from the case at the same hearing, but it had nothing to do with the district attorney’s decision, said Thompson.
Contreras had been in a dating relationship with Evelyn’s mother for about two months prior to the girl’s death on Aug. 6, 2015. On that day, he reportedly convinced Evelyn’s mother to leave the girl alone with him for the first time. Over the course of a couple of hours, he repeatedly sexually molested the girl, according to prosecutors.
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Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News