Caretaker accused in child death pleads not guilty

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 5:23pm

The caretaker accused of abusing a Las Cruces toddler to death pleaded not guilty in court Monday.

Police believe Dustin Castillo, 27, killed 21-month-old Mariano Hernandez last April.

Authorities initially believed the boy died after choking on a piece of candy.

Castillo told police he had to forcefully pat the back and chest of the baby to remove the candy, and accidentally hurt the child in the process.

Yet the New Mexico Medical Investigator's autopsy report showed the baby's skull and several ribs were fractured, leading them to rule the death a homicide.

Castillo is charged with intentional child abuse resulting in death, as well as intentional child abuse resulting in great bodily harm.


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