LAS VEGAS (AP) — A defense attorney said Thursday he wants a mental health evaluation for a Las Vegas man now jailed in protective custody after being accused of keeping a widow and her daughter captive at his home, killing the woman’s 4-year-old son and storing the boy’s body in a garage freezer.

Brandon Lee Toseland’s public defender, Scott Coffee, told reporters following Toseland’s brief court appearance on a murder charge that although his client intends to plead not guilty, the allegations in the case invited a competency review.

“That’s the first thing we will look into, to see if he’s able to go forward” with court proceedings, Coffee said. He added that he had not yet reviewed evidence collected by police.

Toseland, 35, stood silently, staring down at his handcuffed hands, as a Las Vegas judge ordered him to remain jailed pending another court hearing Monday.

Prosecutor Richard Scow told the judge that kidnapping and murder case against Toseland will be consolidated at that time.

Police arrested Toseland on Tuesday, after the girl delivered a handful of sticky notes to her elementary school teacher that said the mother was being held captive at Toseland’s house and thought the girl’s brother was dead, authorities said Wednesday.

A lawyer speaking for the woman and her family said in a statement that she endured months of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by Toseland, who told her he would kill her children if she left him.

AP is not naming the mother or children to avoid identifying a victim of sexual abuse. The attorney, Stephen Stubbs, said the woman does not want her name made public.

Stubbs said the mother, in her 20s, knew Toseland as an acquaintance of her husband, the father of her children, who died in January 2021 of a respiratory illness at age 29. Stubbs said the girl is 7.

After the three moved into Toseland’s house in March 2021, Stubbs said Toseland covered windows, used video surveillance, took the mother’s cellphone, cut her ties to her family and handled her social media. It was not immediately clear if Toseland was employed.

“For the majority of the time, the mother was handcuffed, bound and/or locked up,” Stubbs said.

Police said they found handcuffs in the car in which Toseland was stopped and arrested after the daughter delivered the notes to school. The girl’s mother was with him.

The mother told investigators she had not seen her son since Dec. 11, when she said Toseland told her the boy had become ill but blocked her from seeing him.

Later, Toseland told the mother the boy was dead, police said in an arrest report, “and said she would not be allowed to see his body because he would lose his freedom.” The report noted that Toseland never reported the boy’s death to police or paramedics.

The woman told police she had been abused by Toseland and was not allowed to leave the house alone or enter the garage.

Police Lt. Ray Spencer said the woman worked until December as a phlebotomist, a health care technician collecting blood samples from patients. Stubbs said her work received a text message that she quit.

Stubbs said that during vehicle trips, the mother found a pen and pad of sticky notes in the car and wrote the notes her daughter was able to deliver to her teacher.

Police said the notes said the woman was being held against her will, “did not know the whereabouts of her toddler and … believed the child was possibly deceased.”

(Copyright (c) 2024 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox