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Security fears keep suspect from court

OLIVIA -- Security concerns kept the defendant in the death of a young child out of the courtroom Monday and in the protective custody of the Renville County Jail for his formal arraignment proceedings.

Speaking by phone from the Renville County Jail, Sergio Turrubiates Jr., 20, formerly of Willmar and more recently of Olivia, deferred entering a plea to the charge of murder in the second degree - without intent.

He is charged for the Christmas Eve death of 18-month-old Tiana Moore, who died at the Children's Hospital in St. Paul of traumatic head injuries including a large fracture at the base of her skull. Turrubiates was caring for the child on Dec. 22 at the apartment of the girl's mother in Olivia when the injuries were discovered.

District Judge Randall Slieter told the courtroom that Turrubiates had agreed to hold Monday's hearing by telephone due to security concerns related to threats posted on a social networking site and due to an incident during his Dec. 28 initial appearance.

Jamie Lee Hayes, 26, and James Mathew Kirscher, 22, face misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges after they allegedly charged over the railing in the courtroom toward Turrubiates as he was being escorted in handcuffs for his first appearance on Dec. 28. The two -- identified as the aunt and uncle of Tiana Moore -- were restrained and removed from the courtroom.

Law enforcement officers in Renville County are now investigating a social network posting that made reference to Turrubiates' vulnerability when he would be escorted across the street from the jail to the courthouse for his court appearance, according to information provided in the court on Monday.

About a dozen or so spectators representing friends and family members of Moore and of Turrubiates attended the hearing Monday. They seated themselves on different sides of the courtroom.

Judge Slieter denied a request by Turrubiates' attorney, Michael Kinney, to reduce Turrubiates' bail of $2 million unconditional and $1 million with conditions.

Attorneys William Klumpf, with the Minnesota Attorney General's office, and Lawrence Stratton, Renville County assistant attorney, opposed a reduction.

Klumpf said that Turrubiates is currently on probation for a burglary conviction and has three previous convictions for misdemeanor offenses. He also has a record of assaults as a juvenile, and allegedly assaulted his mother, according to the attorney.

Klumpf also told the court that the state would be filing a motion alleging aggravating circumstances in the alleged crime that could result in a harsher sentence than sentencing guidelines recommend if Turrubiates is convicted.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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