Sentencing rescheduled in death of a Merced toddler

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Family members of a Merced toddler who died after being run over by a truck faced a frustrating day in court. (KFSN)

Family members of a Merced toddler who died after being run over by a truck faced a frustrating day in court.

Jonathan Thao appeared briefly in a Merced County courtroom Monday morning. He's accused of running over three-year-old Santos Alvarez with his truck last November -- and lying about it. Thao claimed the toddler was killed by a hit-and-run driver at McDonald's in south Merced, but police found evidence tying him to the crime. Last month, the 24-year-old suddenly pleaded guilty to a child abuse charge without being offered a deal.

The victim's aunt, Alicia Alvarez, said, "I kept saying, telling my family he wouldn't do something like that, he wouldn't do it, and for everything to come out and it's true, it hurts real bad."

More than a dozen family members came to the courthouse to speak at Thao's sentencing, but they never got that chance because the defense attorney did not receive a probation report in time to review it.

Deputy district attorney Ilia McKinney said, "So the court granted a continuance the defense requested to give them the time they're entitled to in order to review that report."

That news was hard for the victim's relatives to hear because many traveled from other states to be there including Alvarez's mother who flew in from Chicago.

Thao's sentencing has now been re-scheduled for this Friday. He faces a maximum of nine years and eight months in state prison.



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