HILO, Hawaii (AP) - The first of two trials starts with jury selection Monday for a man charged with beating a toddler to death and strangling the child's mother almost nine months later.
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports 40-year-old Xavier Cortez Jr. was arrested in January 2011 on a first-degree assault charge when his girlfriend's 18-month-old daughter was admitted to the hospital with breathing problems. She died a week later at The Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu.
Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Lee says Cortez killed 20-year-old Sommer Ferreira in September 2011 because she said she'd testify against Cortez.
Defense attorney Stanton Oshiro said during cross-examination of Police Detective Robert Almeida that a bungee cord at the scene could have made the marks found on Ferreira's neck.
Cortez goes on trial for Ferreira's death Aug. 11.