LAS VEGAS (AP) — The father of a girl whose body was found in the garage of an abandoned St. Louis-area home said little in his first appearance Friday before a judge in Las Vegas, where he is accused of forcing his wife into prostitution and abusing their two other daughters.
Jason Scott Quate, 34, stood in shackles and answered “Yes, sir,” when a local judge asked if he understood he was charged with felony sex trafficking and living from the earnings of a prostitute.
Quate wasn’t asked to enter a plea, but his court-appointed attorney, Katrina Ross, said outside court that he will plead not guilty. Ross declined to comment about evidence in the case.
No charges have been filed in the girl’s death. Police in Illinois believe she was killed in 2013, when she was 6, and are still investigating.
Quate now also faces child abuse and child pornography charges in separate cases filed in Las Vegas following his arrest Tuesday. Prosecutor Samuel Martinez said Quate’s initial appearances are expected Monday in separate courts on those cases.
Authorities in Illinois found the body of Quate’s daughter Tuesday in the garage of a vacant home in Centreville, Illinois, after hs wife called Las Vegas police from a women’s shelter and described where it could be found.
The mother also is jailed in Las Vegas pending a court appearance Monday as a fugitive on an unspecified out-of-state warrant. It was not immediately known if that case was connected with the discovery of her daughter’s body.
The Associated Press is withholding the woman’s name to avoid identifying the couple’s now-teenage children and because authorities said she is considered a victim in the sex trafficking and prostitution case. She has not been charged with a crime in Las Vegas.
The coroner in St. Clair County, Illinois, planned an autopsy Friday, and any charges related to the girl’s death would be filed in Illinois.
Jason Quate has given differing accounts about his daughter to some media. He declined jailhouse interview requests from The Associated Press.
Quate told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the girl choked to death with food in her mouth when he spanked her, and his wife found the place to hide the body.
He told KSNV-TV in Las Vegas that his wife told him she put the girl up for adoption. But he also told the Post-Dispatch that he lied to the TV station and that his wife concocted the adoption story.
The family moved to Las Vegas about two years ago, and police said their two daughters were never allowed outside their apartment, even to attend school. The girls have been placed in protective custody.
Associated Press writer Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.
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