Plea sought in death of child

ESCANABA — The attorney for the Gladstone mother charged with murder in the drowning death of her toddler last fall, plans to seek a plea agreement for his client, the lawyer stated in Delta County Circuit Court on Monday.

Michaela Denise Maupin, 29, a single mother of three children, was arrested for murder following investigation into the Oct. 7 death of her 15-month-old daughter, Melina. The child drowned while left unsupervised in the family’s bathtub with the water running for 20 minutes, according to Gladstone Public Safety.

Following further investigation, Maupin was charged with one count of second-degree homicide, a life felony, and one count of second-degree child abuse, a four-year felony. Maupin, who was in court Monday, remains lodged in the county jail in lieu of a $1 million cash bond.

During the court proceeding, Maupin’s attorney, Everette Ayers III, told Judge John Economopoulos his client’s case is close to being resolved with a plea, pending an evaluation of her and reaching an agreement with Delta County Prosecutor Philip Strom. Ayers requested 60 days.

Economopoulos set a plea cutoff date for June 22 with a plea hearing date scheduled for June 29, noting the court would only accept an unconditional plea of guilty. He also said these court dates could be adjusted if a plea agreement was reached sooner.

Ayers told the judge he would call the court within a couple weeks after reaching an agreement with the prosecutor. Strom was not present during Monday’s court proceeding, which was attended by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jessica Pelto.

In the event Maupin does not enter a plea, Economopoulos scheduled a seven-day trial for Oct. 9-17 accompanied with a motions filing deadline set for May 25.

District Court Judge Steve Parks bound over Maupin’s two felony charges from district court to circuit court on Dec. 15 after reviewing testimony from her Dec. 7 preliminary hearing and additional documents.

Parks determined a crime was committed and there was probable cause Maupin committed the crime. He explained the elements of second-degree murder had been met including death resulting from an act by the defendant with malice and without justification.

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 an apartment in Gladstone. Upon arrival, officers performed CPR on the toddler, who was transported by ambulance to the emergency room where she was pronounced dead.

According to preliminary testimony from a police officer and a children services specialist from Child Protective Services who both interviewed Maupin, the mother had left her daughter in the tub of running water while she was getting ready for work.

In addition to the above criminal charges, Maupin had her parental rights taken away for her two sons, ages 3 and 8, during a child protective proceeding in Delta County Probate Court on Dec. 15. Judge Robert Goebel Jr. cited legal evidence the defendant’s parental rights should be terminated in each of the boys’ best interest.

Goebel said Maupin had failed to provide proper care of the children and there was reasonable likelihood the boys would be harmed if they were returned to the home. Goebel also noted there was child abuse in the death of Melina, which he said is evidence of voluntary manslaughter.

Since the civil court ruling, Maupin’s sons have been made permanent wards of the court and are in the process of being adopted.