072117 sean michael kothe prelim

Sean Michael Kothe, who is charged with killing his girlfriend's daughter last year and dissuading a witness, listens to testimony during a preliminary hearing last month at Santa Maria Superior Court.

The Orcutt man accused of killing his former girlfriend's toddler pleaded not guilty and denied all special allegations Wednesday.

Sean Michael Kothe, 25, entered pleas during his arraignment on information that was revealed during his two-day probable cause hearing in July.

Following testimony at Santa Maria Superior Court last month, Judge Gustavo Lavayen held Kothe to answer to all felony counts including the murder of 19-month-old Delilah Cossio Molina in June 2016, willful cruelty to a child on multiple occasions before her death and dissuading a witness by force or threat. 

Both Kothe's attorney Steven Andrade and prosecutor Tiffany Dix agreed on a planned trial date of Jan. 16, 2018, and a trial confirmation date for Jan. 10. 

At the hearing in July, the child's autopsy reports were revealed, which showed that Delilah died of severe head trauma, and was presumably brain-dead even before she was transported to the hospital. 

The child sustained severe skull fractures, and the brain couldn't even be further examined by pathologists as it quickly died and became mush, according to testimony. The child had also sustained bruises throughout her lower body. Her brain injuries were so severe that she was transported from Marian Regional Medical Center and later flown to Valley Children's Hospital in Madera, where she was announced deceased and all life-saving measures were stopped. 

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The child's mother, Jackeline Rodriguez of Oceano, who was not charged in the case due to insufficient evidence, was originally detained and questioned by officers and changed her story multiple times, first telling authorities that the child accidentally slipped and fell while taking a bath, attempting to cover up anything accusatory against Kothe. 

Testimony also revealed that Kothe, who reportedly often used heroin at his home with friends, had allegedly threatened a friend of his from speaking with authorities. 

Kothe will return to court Oct. 11 for several motions, one of which includes his attorney's request to have two separate trials for Kothe -- one for the murder charge and another for the witness dissuasion count. 

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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