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Pasco Man Charged In Death Of His Girlfriend’s Daughter

Sat., Dec. 28, 1996

A Pasco man accused of beating to death his girlfriend’s 18-month-old daughter has been charged with murder-by-abuse.

Francisco Z. Gonzales, 22, could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted in the fatal beating of Mercedes Rodriguez. She died Nov. 23, a day after her mother said Gonzales beat her because she wouldn’t stop crying.

Gonzales, who is being held in Franklin County Jail on $250,000 bond, is to be arraigned next Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court, Prosecutor Steve Lowe said Thursday.

Peggy Rodriguez, 21, Gonzales’ girlfriend and the victim’s mother, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors allege she initially lied about how her daughter’s fatal injuries occurred and failed to take Mercedes to the hospital immediately.

She is being held on $150,000 bond.

Prosecutors say the alleged fatal beating was the culmination of months of physical abuse of the toddler.

Initially, the couple told police officers the child was hurt when her mother slipped on ice while carrying her.

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