Lawyers argue over admissibility of evidence in toddler’s fentanyl overdose case in Colorado Springs | Courts | Tech US News

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Attorneys for a Colorado Springs couple accused of allowing their 15-month-old child to die from a fentanyl overdose appeared in court Wednesday to discuss the admission of certain evidence ahead of a December jury trial.

Joenny Manuel Astacio Ottenwalder, 36, and Kira Lee Villalba, 29, are charged with child abuse causing death in connection with the overdose of Cair Astacio, who died in November 2021.


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Villalba’s attorney, Jason Tiplitz, filed several motions regarding the admissibility of interviews conducted by Colorado Springs police with Villalba at the hospital the night Cairo died.

The court heard two officers spoke to Villalba that night.

Tiplitz argued that his client’s rights were violated and that Villalba was treated as if she were in custody, even though the officers did not read her her Miranda rights and did not arrest her.

Tiplitz also argued that police violated his client’s rights by seizing Villalba’s phone without a proper search warrant and keeping it in evidence for about three months.

Because of these alleged violations of his client’s rights, Tiplitz filed a motion to exclude all interviews conducted at the hospital, as well as cell phone data, at trial.


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Prosecutors argued that at no time did police force Villalba to stay at the hospital, pointing to the fact that both officers who testified said neither Villalba nor Ottenwalder were suspects at the time and were just trying to find out what happened to Cairo.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Laura Findorff denied the defense’s motion. Findorff said at no time did police force Villalba to stay, that she had “several” breaks during the interview at the hospital and that she voluntarily returned for the interview after those breaks.

Will Cook, an attorney for Ottenwalder, did not participate in the motion filed by Tiplitz.

After the motion was denied, Findorff asked the attorneys if they were willing to proceed with a jury trial that was scheduled to begin Dec. 5.

Both Tiplitz and Cook expressed reluctance to say they were ready to go to trial because the prosecution had submitted more than 2,500 pages of discovery to each attorney earlier in the day.

Both attorneys said they haven’t had time to review discovery and are not comfortable saying they are ready for trial, even though all of the discovery the prosecution submitted Wednesday had been previously disclosed, prosecutors said. Brien Cecil told the court.

To give attorneys time to review the evidence, Findorff said they will reconvene Friday to determine readiness for trial. Cook said before the hearing that he and his client would be prepared to go to trial if no new evidence was found in discovery.

In addition to the charges related to Cairo’s death, the couple also faces a Feb. 6 trial on charges they administered fentanyl to a 13-year-old girl who overdosed on two separate occasions but survived.

Ottenwalder and Villalba are being held in the El Paso County Jail – Ottenwalder was held on $275,000 bail and Villalba was held on $175,000 bail combined between the two cases.


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