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Saturday, June 6, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ruling delayed in fatal hypothermia case

By Jessie L. Bonner Associated Press

SHOSHONE, Idaho – A judge wants more time to decide on a motion to dismiss charges against an Idaho man accused in the hypothermia death of his young daughter, who tried to hike through 10 miles of snow along a desolate stretch of road on Christmas Day.

Robert Aragon is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony injury to a child for allowing his daughter, Sage, and son, Bear, to trek to their mother’s home in the cold and wind after his 1988 Buick got stuck in a snowdrift.

Bear Aragon, then 12, suffered hypothermia, and his 11-year-old sister, Sage, died.

Public defender Patrick McMillen brought a motion to dismiss the case against Aragon on Friday in 5th District Court, where a relative has already been freed of the same charges.

The case against Kenneth Quintana, a cousin to Aragon and a man the children called uncle, was dropped in January after a defense lawyer argued that although his client was in the car with Aragon, he did not have custody of the children when they were allowed to walk.

Judge G. Richard Bevin on Friday delayed ruling on the motion to dismiss the case against Aragon and pushed a trial date scheduled for July 7 to Oct. 5.

“I feel like I need to take this under advisement,” Bevin said.

During the brief hearing, McMillen argued that Aragon did not knowingly put his children in danger when he let them set out and trudge through the snow-covered desert.

Aragon, a 55-year-old laborer who had custody of Sage and Bear and lived with the children in a small house in the tiny dairy town of Jerome, could not have foreseen the tragedy that unfolded eight hours later, McMillen said.

“This was a loving father,” McMillen said. “It would have never crossed his mind that harm would come to his children.”

Sometime after Sage and Bear began walking, Aragon freed his car from the snowdrift and drove back to Jerome. The children’s mother called later that day to say the kids never arrived.

When authorities found Aragon about 10 p.m. that night, he was searching for the children at the site where the car had become stranded. Early the next morning, a search dog found Sage’s body covered in snow. She was wearing a down coat, shirt, pink pajama pants and snow boots.

Lincoln County Prosecutor E. Scott Paul argued against the motion to dismiss the charges against Aragon because he could not have the foresight to know harm would befall his children.

“This was an incredibly poor decision, at the beginning,” Paul said.

Aragon has pleaded not guilty.

He was freed from jail after his bond was reduced from $500,000 to $25,000 during a preliminary hearing in January.

Randy Adams, who employed Aragon on his farm and has repeatedly defended him as a hard worker and good father, sat behind him in the courtroom.

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