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Day County Father Accused Of Killing Daughter

August 21, 2012, 6:26 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Day County Father Accused Of Killing Daughter
Aleeyah Cook


A Day County father accused of killing his daughter has been released from jail as his case makes its way through court.

Thirty-four-year-old Mario Contreras is accused of killing two-year-old Aleeyah Cook in January. A federal judge in Aberdeen ruled Tuesday Contreras does not have to sit in jail waiting for his trial.

Contreras’ release came with conditions which include no contact with the victim's mother and no unsupervised contact with kids.

Contreras's daughter died nearly eight months ago. The prosecution says evidence points to shaken baby.

Both families say they're putting faith in the system to sort out what happened to Aleeyah.

"Nobody's guilty until proven otherwise by the court and stuff,” Aleeyah’s uncle Ron Cook said. “So we were told to expect this."

"We just are glad with the outcome that he is released until the trial or until hopefully the charges will be dropped," Contreras' uncle David Gill said.

In the courtroom, an investigator testified that Contreras said his daughter fell and hit her head. But multiple doctors said the two-year-old girl died of injuries consistent with shaken baby. And the prosecution said Aleeyah was in Contreras' care in the days leading up to landing in the hospital.

"We all know what happened and it's going to come to light in this court. And my niece Aleeyah is going to get justice for what happened to her," Cook said.

The defense argued Contreras is innocent. His attorney said she hasn't had a chance to refute all the allegations yet.  She argued her client doesn't have a history of violent crime and brought numerous character letters from the community supporting Contreras to the judge's attention.

"The family is very supportive of him. And we hope that the investigation will show that he wasn't involved with the death of his child," Gill said.

Additional conditions to Contreras' release include not leaving the Dakotas without permission. The trial is set to begin late October.

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