• Judge won't dismiss charges against woman accused of strangling toddler with lights

    By: Len Kiese


    TITUSVILLE, Fla. - On Thursday afternoon, a judge ruled charges will not be dismissed against a mother accused of strangling her infant daughter with holiday lights and then blaming it on her 2-year-old son.

    Defense attorneys were trying to get the case thrown out Thursday, partly based on an expert opinion stating the child's death could have been accidental.

    That same opinion from a medical examiner allowed the suspect to be released on bond in May after spending more than 19 months in jail.

    It's still in question exactly how the case will move forward.

    Read: Homicide or accident? Question lingers over case of Oviedo toddler killed by Halloween lights

    Thursday's hearing at the Titusville courthouse was over in a matter of minutes.

    Now that their motion to dismiss has been denied, attorneys for Kristen Depasquale said they are now offering a possible plea to a lesser charge of child neglect in the case.

    Out on bond, Depasquale was able to walk into court with her family. Her attorneys were hoping she would be able to walk out free of the charges against her.

    "We just don't feel that this case should go forward anymore," said J. Jeffery Dowdy, chief assistant public defender. "It's just been going on long enough."

    Defense attorneys filed a motion to dismiss, challenging the state's ability to prove she was the cause of her daughter's strangulation death and that it was premeditated.

    Oviedo police responded to the home in November 2016 and found the 1-year-old tangled in Halloween lights. Her mother told officers it was caused by her then-2-year-old son.

    "This was a tragic accident," Dowdy said. "We've always maintained that, and we've never wavered from that position."

    The motion was prompted in part by a report from a state expert who also said the death could have been accidental. The response from the state argues the doctor's report was hypothetical as to whether a child was capable of that kind of force.

    Prosecutors maintain Depasquale is to blame and evidence will dispute her version of what happened, including original statements that she left her children alone for five minutes to take a shower when the accident happened. She now says she was sleeping.

    "She admitted that she did not tell the truth about being in the shower," Dowdy said. "We're not going to contest that."

    A hearing is scheduled for next week at the Titusville courthouse, where prosecutors will decide how they will move forward with the case.

    Depasquale remains out on bond.

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