UPDATE, July 20: The trial of 26-year-old Lalo Castrillo was temporarily stopped on Tuesday. His trial began Monday in Las Cruces. Castrillo is charged with one count of child abuse resulting in the death of two-year-old Faviola Rodriguez in September 2018.
Earlier Tuesday, the New Mexico Supreme Court granted the district attorney’s request for a stay. According to a DA's office spokesperson, the trial was expected to be moved to Santa Fe.
This comes after a decision by presiding Third Judicial District Judge Douglas Driggers to bar physical evidence in the trial because of missed deadlines by the prosecution.
According to the judge, the 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.
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.
The District Attorney's Office declined further comment.
ORIGINAL REPORT, July 19: LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Opening arguments took place Monday afternoon in the trial of a Las Cruces man charged in the death of his girlfriend's toddler after a judge excluded key prosecution evidence in the case.
In September of 2018, Las Cruces police responded to a call of a toddler laying on the floor and not breathing at the apartment of Lalo Castrillo, who was 23 at the time. First-responders performed CPR on 2-year-old Faviola Rodriguez and ultimately transported her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Police said the toddler's mother had gone to work and left Faviola in the care of Castrillo, who was her boyfriend.
The trial began on the heels of a decision Friday by Judge Doug Driggers that bars prosecutors from using critical physical evidence in the trial because of missed deadlines, according to a spokeswoman for the Doña Ana County District Attorney's Office.
Because of the judge's ruling, jurors in the case will not see photos of the toddler's injuries or hear 911 calls and recorded conversations between Castrillo and police detectives.