Big Island man faces 1 less murder charge

Big Island man faces 1 less murder charge

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - The state has dropped one of two murder charges against a Big Island man accused of beating a baby to death and strangling the child's mother.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that a judge dismissed the charge against Xavier Cortez Jr. in connection with the September 2011 death of Sommer Ferreira. Prosecutors had requested the dismissal after failing to gain witnesses' cooperation.

Cortez's trial for his girlfriend's death had been set to resume Monday. Prosecutors can choose to refile charges at a later date.

Cortez is still charged with the January 2011 death of Ferreira's 18-month-old daughter, who died at a hospital a week after being admitted for breathing problems. Trial for that case is scheduled for May 3.

Cortezy's attorney says his client wants to prove his innocence.

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