A man accused of killing his girlfriend’s 4-year-old son and leaving his body in a freezer pleaded not guilty on Thursday to murder and child abuse charges.
Brandon Toseland, 35, was arrested Feb. 22 after the body of his girlfriend’s son, Mason Dominguez, was found in a freezer at his northeast valley home. Mason’s mother, 28-year-old Dahsia Maldonado, has said that Toseland physically abused her and held her captive for months until she was able to sneak a note to school officials with her 7-year-old daughter.
Toseland faces charges of murder; child abuse, neglect or endangerment resulting in substantial bodily harm; kidnapping of a minor resulting in substantial bodily harm; child abuse, neglect or endangerment; kidnapping, and battery constituting domestic violence by strangulation.
“As to those charges, how do you plead, guilty or not guilty?” District Judge Tierra Jones asked during a court hearing on Thursday.
“Not guilty,” Toseland replied.
Prosecutors filed court documents this week indicating they still have the right to pursue the death penalty. Prosecutors typically have 30 days from when a defendant is indicted to file a notice that they intend to pursue capital punishment, unless the defendant waives the time limit. There is now a six-month limit for the notice to be filed, prosecutor Michelle Fleck said Thursday.
Maldonado has testified to a grand jury that Toseland became possessive and controlling after she moved in with him in March 2021, according to grand jury transcripts. In December, Toseland took Mason into a locked bedroom after the boy said he wasn’t feeling well.
Toseland then confined Maldonado to a bedroom, and she was often handcuffed when the two left the house, according to court records.
When investigators searched the home after Toseland’s arrest, they found a hole in the backyard that police suspect was intended as a grave.
Prosecutors have said Mason suffered a “constellation of internal injuries,” including blunt force trauma to his abdomen, bruising to his torso and extremities, and a bite mark to his left arm.
Maldonado filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against Toseland in March. Last week, Toseland filed a counterclaim in the suit, alleging that Mason’s mother was aware that the boy had died in December and that she decided to help him “preserve” the body.
Maldonado is not facing any criminal charges in Mason’s death. Lisa Rasmussen, an attorney representing Maldonado and her family, said the mother denies the “fantastical claims made by Toseland.”