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Fraga case to go to evidentiary hearing

WORTHINGTON -- Judge Timothy Connell has signed an order granting the evidentiary hearing requested by the state in the Josue Fraga case.

Fraga was convicted in May 2009 of murdering his 2-year-old niece Samantha while she was in his care.

After seven days of being presented evidence, the jury deliberated for five hours before handing down a guilty verdict, which sent him to prison for life.

Fraga and his wife brought Samantha into the emergency room on March 20, 2008, where the little girl was declared dead.

Fraga told the medical staff he had woken up and gone into the children's room, where he witnessed one of the other children jump on Samantha.

An autopsy showed a multitude of injuries, with cause of death ruled a homicide due to a traumatic head injury, contusions, injury of the sex organs and rectum, peritonitis and rupture of the stomach.

After Fraga's conviction for first-degree murder, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief.

His defense team later filed paperwork to bring the case to an evidentiary hearing, citing new evidence involving Fraga's son, who was 13 years old at the time of the murder.

Later, they asked for a retrial, which is when the state announced it also had new information -- that Fraga's 12-year-old daughter had witnessed the murder.

It was that information that prompted the state to request the evidentiary hearing be re-opened.

That way, the new information will be entered into the record in the likely event the case ever goes to the appellate court.

"The court needs to know what the entire picture looks like," Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Bill Klumpp told Connell.

The latest hearing has not yet been scheduled on the court calendar.