Joseph Maloney

Booking photo of Joseph Maloney, 26, of Sonora.

Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Donald Segerstrom scheduled a trial date in March next year for a Sonora man accused of second-degree murder in the 2019 death of 23-month-old Waterford toddler Koltyn Joshua Sparks.

Tuolumne County District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke, who is prosecuting the case, said that Joseph Maloney, 27, appeared in court on Monday morning for the hearing to schedule a trial date.

Maloney is accused by the District Attorney’s Office of second-degree murder, assault on a child causing death, child abuse under circumstances likely to cause great bodily injury, and an enhancement of causing great bodily injury to a child under age 5.

Sparks died in January 2019 after spending the day in Maloney's care at his home on 500 block South Shepherd Street in downtown Sonora.

Tuolumne County Public Defender Scott Gross is representing Maloney, who appeared in front of Segerstrom because Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Kevin Seibert was previously disqualified from the case by private attorney Robert Schell, who represented Maloney through his preliminary hearing. 

Segerstrom ruled in March that the case against Maloney could move forward to trial. Charges of felony child endangerment under circumstances likely to cause great bodily injury or death originally filed against the toddler’s mother, Nicole Sparks, were dismissed following her preliminary hearing due to a lack of evidence.

Nicole Sparks no longer faces charges, though Maloney faces as much as 25 years to life in prison if convicted, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Maloney has remained in custody at the Tuolumne County Jail with his bail set at $1 million since his arrest on Jan. 25. 

Segerstrom set the trial for Maloney to begin on March 28 next year.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at gricapito@uniondemocrat.net or (209) 588-4526.