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Trial in Las Cruces girl’s death put on hold by state court

July 20, 2021 GMT

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico Supreme Court order has brought a trial in the death of a 2-year-old Las Cruces girl to an abrupt halt.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports opening statements were given Monday before the trial of 26-year-old Lalo Anthony Castrillo had to stop.

The issue stems from prosecutors’ appeal of Judge Douglas Driggers’ decision to exclude exhibits involving Faviola Rodriguez’s 2018 death. According to the judge, the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office had missed too many deadlines to turn over exhibits to the court and defense attorneys.

The exhibits include tangible evidence like 911 calls and photos of the young girl’s body. Prosecutors would have to rely mainly on witness and expert testimony.

Castrillo, who was dating Faviola’s mother, is accused of abusing the girl while babysitting her. Authorities say he abused her to the point where her injuries were fatal.

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Castrillo’s attorneys say the prosecutors’ lag in turning over exhibits severely damaged their ability to prepare for the trial.

Assistant District Attorney Daniel Sewell says the judge’s ban on physical evidence is too severe.

Judge Driggers has until July 26 to respond to the order suspending the trial, according to the Supreme Court.