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Bail set in toddler death case

WORTHINGTON -- Bail was set at $500,000 for the man accused of unintentionally killing a 2-year-old toddler in his care.

Josue Fraga, 34, of Worthington, had his first appearance this morning in Nobles County District Court. Fraga is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in the death of his niece, Samantha Fraga.

Several family members, members of the Worthington Police Department and various attorneys were on hand to listen as Judge Timothy Connell advised Fraga of his rights -- the right to remain silent, to be represented by an attorney and to have a court or jury trial.

"The burden of proof is on the state," Connell told Fraga. "The state has to prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt."

Fraga was assigned two attorneys -- Christine Wietzema and Cecil Naatz -- to represent him. During today's court appearance, the state was represented by Nobles County Deputy Attorney Kathy Kusz. The Minnesota Attorney General's Office will handle the prosecution of the case with assistance from the Nobles County Attorney's Office.

If he can make bail, Fraga's conditions of release include not leaving the state without permission, maintaining contact with his attorneys, reporting any change of address and having no contact with children, including his own.

His next court appearance is tentatively set for 9 a.m. April 8 at the Prairie Justice Center.