Man Faces Murder Charges for Toddler’s Death

Sean Kothe, 24, Pleaded Not Guilty to Killing His Girlfriend’s Daughter

[Update, 11:13 a.m.]: Delilah Cossio-Molina is the name of the toddler who died Tuesday at Madera’s Valley Children’s Hospital after battling “severe head trauma” since Sunday, said the Sheriff’s Office in a Friday press release. Details have not yet been released about the child’s official cause and manner of death, pending the Sheriff’s Coroner’s investigation. She most recently lived in Orcutt.

Delilah Cassio-Molina
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Delilah Cassio-Molina

[Original Story]: Santa Barbara County’s District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday filed murder charges against a 24-year-old man accused of killing his girlfriend’s one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Sean Kothe pleaded not guilty Thursday in Santa Maria Superior Court to murder and assault on a child causing death.

Sean Michael Kothe
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Sean Michael Kothe

Jane Doe, as the toddler is identified, was brought by her 21-year-old mother, Jackeline Molina-Rodriguez, to the Emergency Room at Santa Maria’s Marian Regional Medical Center around noon on Sunday. Doe suffered “severe head trauma,” said Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kelly Hoover in a prepared statement, “which was inconsistent with the mother’s explanation of how the injury occurred.” At 4 p.m., ER personnel reported the possible child abuse, launching a Sheriff’s Office investigation.

Upon interviewing Molina-Rodriguez, of Oceano, Sheriff’s detectives arrested her for suspected child endangerment. As charges weren’t filed against Molina-Rodriguez, she was released Tuesday.

Authorities did not elaborate on the injuries that caused the toddler to be airlifted to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, where she was declared brain dead at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday. According to its website, the hospital is home to The Guilds of Valley Children’s Hospital Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Center, which partners with its pediatric intensive care unit to care for mistreated and neglected children.

At approximately 2 a.m. Monday morning, authorities served a search warrant at Kothe’s home on the 4800 block of Crestwood Drive in Orcutt, where Doe and Molina-Rodriguez had been staying. The search led to Kothe’s arrest for an outstanding warrant, possessing drug paraphernalia — specifically syringes — and being under the influence of a controlled substance. Two days later, Chief Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola filed murder charges against Kothe based on evidence detectives gathered during interviews with Doe’s family members and medical staff in Madera County.

Kothe, who’s being held on $1-million bail, returns to court July 6 for a preliminary hearing setting in Judge Patricia Kelly’s courtroom, where he will be represented by the North County Defense Team. His preliminary setting is scheduled for July 13. Kothe, said Hoover, is not the child’s father.

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