By Aubrey Wieber

The Bulletin

The husband and wife accused of murdering their adopted daughter by withholding food until she died of emaciation have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to stand trial next summer.

Estevan Garcia, 34, and Sacora Horn-Garcia, 31, appeared via video from the Deschutes County jail Thursday and entered not guilty pleas, though it was all but a formality. The day before, their attorneys, Shawn Kollie representing Garcia and Aaron Brenneman representing Horn-Garcia, scheduled a six-week trial starting June 5.

Attorneys said in court Wednesday that they thought the trial could be wrapped up in as few as four weeks, but blocked out six to be on the safe side.

Garcia and Horn-Garcia, of Redmond, were arrested April 6 after police found text messages regarding the health of their adopted daughter — 5-year-old Maliyha Hope Garcia — sent hours before she died Dec. 21, 2016.

In the texts, the couple discussed her poor health, and whether they should take her to a doctor. The girl died of emaciation, and court documents stated an intentional lack of food and medical attention contributed to the death.

Garcia and Horn-Garcia are charged with one count of murder, two counts of first-degree manslaughter and two counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment.

Attorneys were in court Wednesday for the second time this week in an effort to set trial dates, as well as dates for other hearings. They blocked off a week starting Jan. 8 for an omnibus hearing, which is used as a catch-all to discuss whatever matters need to be ruled on by a judge before trial. Often, omnibus hearings are used to decide what evidence and testimony will be allowed into the trial, and what won’t. It usually consists of testimony from potential witnesses.

A gag order in the case has stopped all attorneys involved from discussing the matter outside of court.

Additionally, attorneys on both sides will have until Nov. 13 to file motions in the case, and until Dec. 4 to submit responses to motions from opposing counsel.

— Reporter: 541-383-0376, awieber@bendbulletin.com

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