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Turrubiates enters plea in Renville Co., Minn., child murder case

OLIVIA -- Sergio Turrubiates Jr., 21, of Olivia, entered a guilty plea this afternoon to an amended charge of second-degree murder while committing the felony crime of child endangerment for the December 2010 death of 18-month-old Tiana Moore.

The plea was not immediately accepted by District Judge Dwayne Knutsen, who also heard arguments on whether Turrubiates should get a longer prison sentence because of aggravating factors in the case. The hearing was in Renville County District Court.

Knutsen took the case under advisement and will issue a ruling in approximately a week. If the aggravating factors, the vulnerability of the child and if she was harmed in a particularly cruel way, are allowed, Turrubiates could face up to 20 years in prison.

Turrubiates was caring for Moore at her Olivia home Dec. 22, 2010 while her mother was at work. Tina Kirscher came home to discover her child coughing or choking on blood. The child would not wake up.

Turrubiates admitted in court that the girl fell off of a blanket he was using to pull her around and that a television fell on her head, causing her to strike her head on an end table. He admitted to not doing anything to help the child until her mother arrived at the apartment and that he didn't tell the child's mother or doctors what had really happened to Moore, even as the girl was hospitalized for her injuries.

Moore died of traumatic head injuries two days later, on Dec. 24, 2010, at Children's Hospital in St. Paul. Her death was ruled a homicide by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner. The examiner testified during the hearing that there were at least seven impacts on the child's head, four external and three internal.