Crime - Sacto 911

New homicide charge for boyfriend in toddler’s death as mom faces judge

Frederic McDonald, 29, was arrested Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, on suspicion of child abuse causing death.
Frederic McDonald, 29, was arrested Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, on suspicion of child abuse causing death.

Sacramento prosecutors filed child homicide charges Tuesday against Frederic McDonald in the death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter. The new charge came hours before girlfriend Samantha Zechlin’s first court appearance in her child’s death.

Gabriella Gold was found unresponsive Nov. 20, 2017, on the 4900 block of San Juan Avenue. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital, Sacramento County sheriff’s officials said. McDonald, 29, was arrested two weeks later on Dec. 1, 2017, on suspicion of child abuse causing death after sheriff’s detectives carrying a search warrant for Gabriella’s home found evidence they said tied McDonald to Gabriella’s death.

McDonald, jailed since his arrest last December, returned to Sacramento County Superior Court on Tuesday morning to face a judge on the added charge.

He is being held without bail at Sacramento County Main Jail and will return to court Aug. 16.

It would be nearly eight more months after McDonald’s December arrest that Zechlin, 26, was arrested Saturday in Monterey County following what Sacramento authorities called a lengthy and in-depth investigation.

Zechlin was arraigned Tuesday afternoon hours after McDonald’s appearance. She is suspected of inflicting “unjustifiable pain causing death,” and child endangerment, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette said, in connection with young Gabriella’s death.

Zechlin said little in her brief appearance before Marlette, who ordered her to return to court Aug. 2 for a bail review. Prosecutors also anticipate joining McDonald’s and Zechlin’s cases at the scheduled Aug. 16 hearing.

Zechlin remains held in Sacramento County custody at Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center near Elk Grove in lieu of $300,000 bail.

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