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Former resident makes court appearance for toddlers death
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Chris Cheary, the 20-year-old former Turlock resident, entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment Monday on charges he murder his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, Sophia Acosta.

Cheary was arraigned in Tulare County Superior Court on charges of murder with special circumstances, which encompass charges of sodomy, lewd acts upon a child, and torture. He is also facing additional charges of child abuse causing death, sodomy with a person under 14 years, and forcible lewd acts upon a child.

The special circumstances could make Cheary eligible for the death penalty.

In addition to entering the plea, Cheary was assigned a public defender.

The toddler’s mother, Ericka Smith, remains a person of interest in the case.

The autopsy results indicate the toddler died from blunt force trauma, according to the Exeter Police Department.

Almost two weeks after Acosta’s death, Cheary was interviewed by CBS 47 television. In the interview Cheary admits he and Smith were in the apartment using heroin.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.