Baby sitter pleads not guilty in child’s death case

rparsons@mercedsun-star.comSeptember 16, 2013 

A Livingston woman, charged with killing a 1-year-old boy she was baby-sitting when she allegedly threw him against a couch in 2011, pleaded not guilty Monday in Merced Superior Court.

Maria De Los Angeles Sixtos, 48, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted on felony child abuse charges in connection with the boy’s death on March 3, 2011.

Judge Mark V. Bacciarini entered not guilty pleas on Sixtos’ behalf and denied a defense request to release her from custody Monday.

Defense attorney Mary Ann Bird seemed doubtful a plea deal could be reached.

“We’ll likely end up in trial,” Bird told the judge.

Bird argued that Sixtos has no prior criminal convictions and said her client was not a flight risk.

“I don’t even see a traffic ticket here,” Bird said of Sixtos’ background. “She has the support of her whole community.”

Monica Saini, deputy Merced County district attorney, disagreed.

“There is a baby that has died,” Sanini said. “This is a life sentence and it doesn’t get any more serious than that.”

The judge also denied a motion by prosecutors for $1 million bail and set bail at $585,000.

Sixtos was in custody Monday afternoon at the Merced County Jail. She is scheduled to return to court again Oct. 29.

Bird questioned why it took prosecutors more than two years to file criminal charges. She also suggested there may be problems with the autopsy report in the case and noted the pathologist who conducted the examination, Ann Bucholtz, is no longer employed by the county.

“It appears this case was shelved for 2 1/2 years,” Bird told the judge.

Saini brushed off those arguments. “There is no problem with the autopsy report. I don’t know what she was talking about there,” she said.

The prosecutor said a lengthy delay in the case was the result of the pathologist “leaving the county.”

“So it did take a while, while we were waiting for the report to be completed,” Saini said.

Livingston police arrested Sixtos last month, more than two years after they said the child she was baby-sitting died. The child’s name has not been released.

Sixtos told investigators she became frustrated with the child after he kept following her into the kitchen, authorities said.

“According to the (police) report, she wanted him to stay in the living room,” Saini said.

Livingston police said Sixtos confessed to the throwing the baby against the couch in frustration.

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