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CROWN POINT | Sentencing for Timothy Tkachik, co-defendant in the 2009 slaying of Portage toddler Jada Justice, has been continued to Jan. 21 because prosecutors are looking at another possible suspect in the case.

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter on Thursday confirmed Tkachik's hearing was continued again due to the ongoing investigation.

"There's another individual we're looking at," he said, again declining to identify the suspect.

Tkachik had been expected to be sentenced Friday.

He pleaded guilty in June to two counts of neglect of a dependent for his role in the child's death.

The two counts of neglect of a dependent are both Class A felonies, which carry sentences ranging from 20 to 50 years each, which would be served concurrently.

The plea agreement was taken under advisement by Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr., who initially set sentencing for Sept. 10.

However, the day prior to Tkachik's scheduled sentencing, a jury imposed a sentence of life without parole on co-defendant Engelica Castillo.

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Immediately following Castillo's sentencing, Carter disclosed his office is investigating potential charges against a "third party" he left unnamed. The next day, Tkachik's sentencing hearing was continued to Dec. 3.

Prosecutors had charged Tkachik, 25, and his girlfriend, 20-year-old Castillo, both of Hobart, with murder, two counts of neglect of a dependent, battery and false informing in June 2009 after the child's body was found burned and encased in concrete in a LaPorte County swamp.

In the plea bargain reached with prosecutors, Tkachik admitted to participating in beating the child, delivering several blows to the girl's head and holding the child down while Castillo repeatedly struck her with a belt.

He said the beatings began when the child irritated Castillo by, among other things, dumping a package of drink mix and spilling a container of syrup.

Tkachik later served as the chief witness in Castillo's trial.

Castillo was convicted on all counts in August and sentenced to life without parole in September.

 

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