Daniel and Victoria Pedraza, a Drew County couple suspected in the February 27 death of their 2-year-old daughter Aubriana Coke were jointly charged in this week with capital murder and permitting abuse of a child. In addition to the criminal charges, a notice of potentially aggravating circumstances was filed with the capital murder charge against Daniel Pedraza.
Tenth Judicial District Prosecutor Thomas Deen said he has not yet decided if he will seek the death penalty.
“It’s a long process to go through to make a decision such as that and a prosecutor can only seek that if one or more special aggravating circumstances exist,” Deen said.
Apparently Deen believes three potentially aggravating circumstances do exist. In addition to the criminal charges, a notice of three potentially special aggravating circumstances was filed along with the capital murder charge against Daniel Pedraza.
According to the notice, the three special circumstances were that the murder was alleged to have been committed in an especially cruel manner, in a depraved manner, and the victim was a child under the age of 12.
Daniel Pedraza, 23, and Victoria Pedraza, 21, reportedly told police that Aubriana fell on some large rocks at Lake Monticello on February 26, but Dr. Stephen Erickson, the chief deputy medical examiner, says the toddler’s injuries were not consistent with her mother and stepfather’s account of how she received the injuries
Erickson listed Aubriana’s death as a homicide with multiple blunt force injuries.