Trial set for sitter in toddler death
The trial of the man caring for a Hornbeck toddler at the time of her death two years ago may, at last, be headed to the courtroom.
Rodney “Donnie” Bailey Jr., 35, will face charges of obstruction of justice and second-degree cruelty to a juvenile before a Vernon Parish jury in February. The charges are in connection with the death of 2-year-old Willow Rain Renteria Molina, whose body was found in a remote area of Beauregard Parish May 6, 2016.
Bailey was formally indicted in July 2017. The trial has been re-fixed a number of times over the years, with the most recent court date having been set for last month. Vernon Parish District Attorney Asa Skinner told the American Press that he believes the trial will hold its newest calendar date.
“This has been a very serious case for this parish, and everyone involved in this case is eager to see justice served for Willow,” Skinner stated.
The child was reported missing to Vernon Parish authorities May 5 by her mother, Vanessa Renteria Molina. Molina told investigators that she had returned home around 11 p.m. to find Willow and Bailey gone, and that Bailey had left a note saying that he had taken the child with him when he left the home.
The child’s grandmother told authorities that she had allowed Bailey to use her SUV that day, and that he had not returned.
In the early-morning hours of May 6, the vehicle was located in Beauregard Parish being driven by Bailey.
The child was not located inside the vehicle when authorities conducted a search, but a weapon and drugs were found. Bailey was arrested and found.
Bailey was arrested and reportedly uncooperative with authorities when asked about the wherabouts of the missing child.
The child’s body was found that afternoon and a preliminary autopsy placed her date of death as May 4. Her death was ruled a homicide, but a cause of death has never been released.
In August 2017, Vanessa Molina pleaded guilty to charges of child desertion and methamphetamine possession. Sheriff Sam Craft said at the time of the arrest that the charges were a direct result of the ongoing investigation into Willow’s death. Vanessa Molina received probation for the drug charge and a deferred sentence for the child desertion charge.
Bailey remains in prison awaiting his court date. The trial is set to be heard by Judge Tony Bennett.
‘This has been a very serious case for this parish, and everyone involved in this case is eager to see justice served for Willow.’
Vernon Parish District Attorney