Baby Hope suspect formally charged by grand jury

Conrado Juarez, cousin and alleged killer of 4-year-old

Conrado Juarez, cousin and alleged killer of 4-year-old Anjelica Castillo, nicknamed Baby Hope, waits to be arraigned at Manhattan Criminal Court. During an interrogation early Saturday, Juarez admitted sexually assaulting and smothering her before disposing her body. (Oct. 12, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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A Manhattan grand jury has formally charged the Queens man suspected of murdering 4-year-old Anjelica Castillo -- known as Baby Hope -- in 1991 and disposing of her body in a picnic cooler, officials said Tuesday.

During a brief court appearance Tuesday, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Melissa Mourges told criminal court judge Lisa Sokoloff that the grand jury had charged Conrado Juarez, 52, who wasn't in court.

Mourges didn't reveal the exact nature of the charges but they likely mirror the criminal court complaint filed earlier this month when Juarez was arrested in the murder of Anjelica, who police said was sexually abused just before her death by the defendant. Juarez is due back in court for arraignment Nov. 21.

Later, court appointed defense attorney Michael Croce indicated that his main line of defense at this point would be to attack the legality of any statement Juarez gave police in the hours before he was arrested on Oct. 12. At that time, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said detectives had convinced Juarez to talk.

But Croce said he thought Juarez had been questioned for 12 to 14 hours and was suspicious about the circumstances under which his client was held.

"I don't trust any statement made by any individual after being in custody for such an extended period of time," Croce said. "I think that all of those type of statements are suspect and need to be examined for what they are. I will expect that we will find out that [such] statement was not videotaped or recorded."

However, NYPD spokesman John McCarthy said Juarez's confession was videotaped in the presence of an assistant district attorney and detectives.

Croce also said he wouldn't be surprised to learn that Juarez wasn't given an opportunity to call his family or an attorney until he made any statement.

But another law enforcement source who asked not to be named said Juarez was given multiple opportunities to make calls.

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