MODESTO — A Modesto woman accused of murder in the death of toddler she was baby-sitting will have to wait until next month for her preliminary hearing to conclude.
The hearing was scheduled to resume Monday afternoon for defendant Maria Elena Torres. Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Scott Steffen, however, continued the hearing until April 19.
Deputy Public Defender Greg Spiering, Torres' defense attorney, asked the judge for more time to prepare and possibly call witnesses to testify. Deputy District Attorney Annette Rees called her final witness Thursday afternoon.
Once the attorneys finish their closing arguments in the hearing, Steffen will determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to a trial.
The defendant remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail.
Maria Guadalupe Cisneros had left her daughter, Alexandra Medina-Cisneros, in Torres' care as she had many times before. The women had been friends for about eight years, and Torres agreed to take care of the child while Cisneros was at work.
The defendant has told investigators that the 18-month-old child fell down a flight of stairs outside her second-floor home at El Casa Verde apartment complex on Feb. 7, 2012.
A pathologist testified that the child died from blunt force injuries to her abdomen and back, resulting in tears in the child's liver, pancreas and left kidney that are not indicative of a fall.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2394.