Man pleads not guilty to murdering, sexual abusing 17-month-old girl

A Redwood City man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to sexually abusing and murdering a 17-month-old girl left in his care earlier this month, prosecutors said.

Daniel Contreras, 27, could face the death penalty if convicted of murder, felony child abuse resulting in the death of a child and multiple counts of performing lewd acts on a child for the death of the girl, identified as Evelyn Castillo, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Contreras had been dating Evelyn's mother for about two months when she left the girl alone with him on Aug. 6.

The girl was fatally injured in his care, and Contreras called the girl's mother and aunt and said she had fallen off a changing table, prosecutors said.

She was dead by the time police arrived at the apartment in the 400 block of Madison Avenue at about 2:30 p.m.

Contreras repeated his story to authorities, but he was arrested two days later when the investigation revealed that the girl had been beaten to death, prosecutors said.

He allegedly sexually assaulted the girl and when she would not stop crying, he beat her, fracturing her skull multiple times, according to prosecutors.

Contreras remains in jail without bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 8. The district attorney's office has still not determined whether to seek the death penalty in the case, Wagstaffe said.