Gladstone woman sentenced in child’s drowning
ESCANABA — A Gladstone woman who was initially charged with murder after her child drowned in a bathtub last year was sentenced Monday to up to 15 years in prison.
Michaela Denise Maupin, 30, was charged with second degree murder following an investigation into the Oct. 7, 2017, death of her 15-month-old daughter, Melina. According to Gladstone Public Safety, which responded to the scene and attempted to revive the infant, the child drowned while left unsupervised in the family’s bathtub with the water running for 20 minutes.
“You don’t put a baby in a bathtub and then go and make numerous phone calls and then turn around and say that you were in a fog. A fog had nothing to do with it. It had to do with the mother who intentionally distracted herself, who intentionally left the child there unattended, and then the consequences were death,” said Delta County Prosecuting Attorney Brett Gardner.
Maupin had her parental rights terminated for her two other children in December. In late June, she pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of second degree child abuse and involuntary manslaughter in exchange for the prosecution dismissing the second degree murder charge.
At Monday’s sentencing, the court weighed the scoring of the case, which is used to determine the length of the sentence, and debated whether to amend a victim statement from Melina’s father submitted in October 2017, which claimed Maupin had intentionally drowned the child. An updated statement, written on July 25 of this year does not make that claim.
“The tenet of the two victim impact statements are in startling contrast to one another, and one would imagine that the more current one is a more accurate representation of where the child’s father stands,” said 47th Circuit Court Judge John Economopoulos.
The updated statement was ultimately included in the court record.
While weighing her sentencing, Maupin’s attorney Everette E. Ayers III argued that Maupin was a good mother and that many parents left their children in negligent scenarios without the same repercussions. He also described how she was not able to attend the child’s funeral, and claimed she suffered from a type of memory loss caused by fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition Maupin has been diagnosed with.
“This fibro-fog does cause some short-term memory loss, and she has had a few episodes in the jail. No doubt she’s suffered from that,” said Ayers, adding they had not found a doctor who was willing to testify on the memory loss portions of the disorder.
Ayer stopped short of claiming the “fibro-fog” was the reasoning Maupin left her child in the bathtub that night.
“I’m not making excuses, I’m not saying ‘hey this…’ — there’s a lot of contributing factors here,” he said.
It was also noted that, up until this point, Maupin had no criminal history of any sort.
“You come here as a first-time offender, but my goodness, you offended quite gravely,” Economopoulos said during sentencing.
Despite silently choking back tears throughout much of the hearing, Maupin read a prepared statement calmly and quietly when given an opportunity to speak on her own behalf.
“I take full responsibility for what happened to my daughter, Melina. I never meant to hurt her or any of my other children. My love for my children has not changed and there is not a day that I don’t think of you,” she read.
Maupin went on to tell the court how she had been arrested within 18 hours of her daughter’s passing and had nightmares every night in jail. She also told the court she had lost everything due to being incarcerated.
“I wish I could change what happened, but I just can’t. I will live with that,” she concluded.
Following her statement, Ayers told the court that Maupin had grown up in Germany and had a much more stoic demeanor than most defendants. He said he believed that it was this stoicism that led many to believe she did not feel remorse.
“As I got to know her, this is her personality, to keep these things in,” he said.
That stoicism was broken and Maupin audibly wept as Economopoulos handed down his sentence. She was sentenced to 6 to 10 years on the second degree child abuse charge and 38 months to 15 years on the involuntary manslaughter charge. Both sentences will be served concurrently and Maupin was credited for 324 days already served in jail. She will also be subject to DNA assessment and required to pay $326 in fines and fees.
“The fact remains that to be given a gift of being a parent creates a sacred trust and that sacred trust was violated in this case by you. It is a tragedy that you violated that scared trust, but it wasn’t violated simply because something horrible happened — but for the grace of God goes any of us parents, as your attorney aptly pointed out. The reason the sacred trust was violated in your case, Miss. Maupin, was because what happened to your daughter was easily avoidable. It wasn’t just avoidable, it was easily avoidable,” Economopoulos said.
Ilsa Matthes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.