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Forum News Service, Published May 07 2013

Trial set for South Dakota woman accused of beating child to death

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. -- A Gann Valley woman accused of beating a 4-year-old child to death because he wet his pants has been scheduled to stand trial in February.

Donika Gonzales, 22, is accused of slapping, kicking, shoving and stomping 4-year-old Mason Naser, a child living in her home, to death Feb. 21. She pleaded not guilty last month to second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, aggravated assault and felony child abuse. Second-degree murder, the most serious of the charges, carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Gonzales appeared in court for a motions hearing Tuesday at the Brule County Courthouse, along with her court-appointed attorney, Randy Stiles of Mitchell.

Anderson set Gonzales’ trial for February. He also granted a motion allowing defense lawyers to hire a forensic pathologist as an expert witness.

He plans to rule later on the state’s request to require the expert witness to produce a report with any findings the witness makes and to limit the witness’s testimony to just the items contained in the report.

Anderson, as he has at prior hearings, also denied a request to lower Gonzales’ bail from $30,000 cash to a 10 percent bond.