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Judge rules probable cause in Olivia, Minn., child murder case

OLIVIA -- District Judge Dwayne Knutsen has ruled that there is probable cause to charge Sergio Turrubiates Jr., 20, of Olivia, with second-degree murder for the December 2010 death of 18-month-old Tiana Moore.

In an order filed Thursday in Renville County District Court, Knutsen also denied a motion by Turrubiates' attorneys to suppress statements made by their client to County Sheriff Scott Hable. The judge concluded that Turrubiates' statements were voluntary and that he was not in custody when then-Deputy Hable interviewed him at the sheriff's office.

The order notes that Hable arrested Turrubiates later on in the interview, after the young man used a doll to show how he had shaken the child. Turrubiates is being held on $2 million bond in the Renville County Jail.

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.

Turrubiates is scheduled for a jury trial beginning March 12 before Judge Knutsen. The defendant was found mentally competent to stand trial in May after a court-ordered mental health evaluation.

Turrubiates was caring for Moore at her Olivia home Dec. 22 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.

She was taken to Renville County Hospital and then to Children's Hospital.

According to the omnibus order, Turrubiates told Kirscher and a doctor at Renville County Hospital that he had been pulling the child around on a blanket or rug and she fell and hit her head. He repeated that claim to Hable during the interview, but later gave different versions of the account.

He allegedly said he threw the child onto the bed while playing and that she had fallen and hit her head. Turrubiates also described shaking the child, the order notes.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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