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12 23Fri04252014

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Back Local News Probation officer pleads not guilty, allowed to go back to work

Probation officer pleads not guilty, allowed to go back to work

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THE Superior Court of Guam’s senior probation officer, whose 2-year-old daughter died after being left alone in his vehicle for seven hours, has pleaded not guilty to felony charges and was allowed to return to work.

Anthony Lizama Morcilla, 46, appeared for his arraignment before Superior Court Judge Alberto Tolentino yesterday.

Morcilla pleaded not guilty on charges of negligent homicide, leaving child unattended in motor vehicle, and child abuse. All charges are labeled third-degree felonies.

After entering his plea, Morcilla, through his attorney Curtis Van de Veld, requested the court to allow him to return to work in the Guam Judiciary Probation Office in Hagåtña, the same place where he left his daughter inside his parked car in the morning of April 3.

Tolentino initially expressed concern that Morcilla might have contacts with some of the witnesses of the case in his workplace.

The judge asked the opinion of the government lawyer and the representative from the probation office. Nobody objected to Morcilla’s request, prompting the judge to grant the defendant’s motion to go back to work on condition that he would not discuss his case at work. He is also not allowed to go anywhere outside of his workplace and the home of his third-party custodians.

Morcilla waived his right to a speedy trial and asked for a jury of 12. He was ordered to go back to court on May 7 at 9 a.m. before Judge James Canto for a trial setting.

Forgot

According to court documents, Morcilla picked up his daughter from his ex-girlfriend, the child’s mother, with the intention of dropping her off at a day care.

“[The victim] was put in her car seat in the back seat of his vehicle and Morcilla proceeded to drop an older child to school,” the declaration said. “During the course of driving, [the victim] apparently fell asleep in the back seat and when Morcilla arrived at work, he apparently forgot [the victim] was in his vehicle.”

Court records said Morcilla did not discover his child’s condition until he returned to his vehicle at about 3 p.m., approximately seven hours later.

An emergency call was made from the Probation Office at about 3:30 p.m. and medics transported the child to Naval Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Medical examination determined that the child died between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. She sustained second-degree burns on both legs, both arms, and her facial area.

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