Attempted murder charges dropped against Maricopa resident

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The Pinal County Grand Jury has indicted Maricopa resident Kassandra Toruga on counts of reckless burning and aggravated assault. Toruga was arrested March 3 after she allegedly admitted trying to kill her pregnant friend and take the unborn baby. At the time of arrest police were recommending charges of attempted murder, arson and burglary.

When determining charges to hand down, the Grand Jury looks at both the recommendations and what charges they believe can be successfully prosecuted, said Pinal County Attorney Office spokesman Kostas Kalaitzidis.

Police first encountered the Homestead resident on Feb. 16 when responding to a fire she supposedly set in her friend’s closet in a home located in the Cobblestone Farms subdivision. At the scene, police discovered the 18-year-old woman in possession of two large butcher knives, a pair of scissors, diapers and baby clothes.

Maricopa Police Chief Kirk Fitch said enough evidence existed to charge the woman with a crime at that time, but police choose to continue the investigation instead. After a several weeks of follow-up police work, Fitch said Toruga confessed that she had planned to murder her friend and cut the baby from her body.

“This was an example of an excellent investigation that led to an attempted murder confession,” Fitch said.

Toruga is currently being held in Pinal County Jail with a bond of $500,000.

Since the arrest, the suspect’s friend has given birth to the child; according to police, she remains fearful the suspect will attempt to return and kidnap her baby.

Toruga’s next court date is not determined.