Child murder case heads to circuit court
ESCANABA — A Gladstone mother charged with murder in the drowning death of her 15-month-old daughter was bound over from Delta County District Court to circuit court on a second-degree homicide charge as well as an added count of second-degree child abuse Friday.
Michaela Denise Maupin, 29, a single mother of three children, was arrested for murder following investigation into the death of her daughter, Melina, who drowned while left unsupervised in the family’s bath tub with the water running for 20 minutes on Oct. 7.
After reviewing testimony presented during Maupin’s Dec. 7 preliminary hearing in district court, evaluating the law, and looking at additional documents submitted, Judge Steve Parks found a crime was committed and there was probable cause the defendant, Maupin, committed the crime.
As a result, the two felonies were bound over to circuit court where Maupin may make a plea or schedule a jury trial.
Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentencing of life in prison while second-degree child abuse is punishable by up to four years in prison.
Following the judge’s ruling on Friday, Maupin left the court in tears while a sheriff’s deputy escorted her back to the county jail where she has been lodged for 10 weeks in lieu of a $1 million cash bond.
According to Gladstone Public Safety, at approximately 5:50 p.m. on Oct. 7, officers were dispatched to the report of an unresponsive 15-month-old child at Thorntree Apartments in Gladstone. Upon arrival, officers performed CPR on the toddler who was transported by ambulance to the emergency room where she was pronounced dead.
During Maupin’s preliminary examination last week, witnesses who testified included Gladstone Public Safety Officer Ryan Peterson who was the first officer to arrive at the scene, Adoree Killips, a children services specialist from Child Protective Services who interviewed the defendant, and Dr. Terry Gottlieb, the pathologist who determined the child died due to drowning.
Parks reviewed the testimony of the three witnesses as well as exhibits, re-accounting the events of Melina’s death. Maupin had left her daughter in the tub of running water while she was getting ready for work and at one point she sat down in the living room, said Parks.
The autopsy determined the child died from drowning and also revealed a small dose of anti-depressant in the child’s system, said Parks, noting it was never established in the preliminary hearing where the drug came from. Testimony also included the fact that a child can drown in one inch of water or less, he added.
Parks said the elements of second-degree murder have been met including death resulting from an act by the defendant with malice and without justification.
There was probable cause the defendant knowingly created a high risk of death and knew death could result from her actions, explained the judge, adding the defendant’s actions caused the death of the child and the death was not justified or excused to be reduced to a lesser crime.
Parks also said the elements have also been met to support second-degree child abuse by the defendant causing physical harm to the child by placing the child in the tub and leaving the child unattended for a significant amount of time.
A date will be set in circuit court for Maupin to make a plea or schedule a trial.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org