A disturbing 911 call, in which a Michigan father described his daughter as "dead as a doornail" and admitted to waiting 90 minutes to call dispatchers while he waited for his lawyer, was played in a courtroom Wednesday as part of preliminary hearing for a couple charged with murder.
Seth Welch and Tatiana Fusari are accused of allowing their 10-month-old daughter Mary to starve to death. At the time of her death on Aug. 2, prosecutors said she weighed just eight pounds, had no muscle and wasn't able to crawl or lift her head, according to WOOD-TV.
Although Welch's defense attorney Lesley S. Kranenberg maintains the couple—who didn't believe in taking their children to doctors for religious reasons—just believed the baby was "skinny not sickly," Assistant Prosecutor Kim Richardson refuted those claims.
"That baby barely looked like a baby anymore," she said in court, according to WOOD-TV. "They knew something was wrong."
Even Judge Sara Smolenski, in ruling that the case would move to trial, called the death "as horrific as it gets," Michigan Live reports.
"The skeletal-like posture of the child, in my opinion, speaks volumes for how long the baby was not cared for properly," she said Wednesday.
Welch called 911 in August and told a dispatcher, "I guess I don't know if this is the right place to report this to. ... One of my children is dead," Michigan Live reports.
When the dispatcher asked Welch why he didn't think she was alive he said, "I have no idea. We just woke up and she's dead," according to Fox17 station WXMI.
He told authorities he had put the baby to bed the day before at 3 p.m. and didn't check on her again until 10 a.m. the next morning when he discovered she was dead. The dispatcher asked if he was sure it was too late for help and Welch said that it was.
"She was dead as a doornail," he said, according to WXMI.
Welch also said on the recording that he had waited "about an hour and a half" before reporting the death because he called his attorney first, who suggested he wait until the lawyer could arrive to contact authorities.
The dispatcher also asked how Welch was holding up after discovering his daughter dead and he replied "You know, just another day. It is what it is," according Michigan Live.
While he appeared to show little emotion on the call, Welch was reportedly visibly emotional in court when he heard the recording, the news organization reported.
Dr. David Start, who performed the autopsy, testified Wednesday that the young baby's cause of death was "malnutrition associated with dehydration due to neglect of adult caregivers."
Defense attorneys said there was some evidence to suggest the baby may have had a metabolic disorder, but Start said he found no evidence of any metabolic disease or parasites.
Dawn Tenbrink, a Kent County Sheriff's crime scene investigator, also took to the stand to describe the conditions of the home at the time of the death and said there was mice feces in drawers and flies throughout the house. She also said the baby's bed appeared to have mold on it, Michigan Live reports.
The family has cited religious reasons for why they don't believe in taking their children to doctors to receive medical care; however, Det. Jason Russo said the parents, who have two other children, also said they didn't trust doctors because one had once reported them to Child Protective Services after they disagreed with the doctor's recommendation regarding their older daughter.
In an interview from jail with WOOD-TV, Welch said he didn't see any signs his youngest daughter Mary wasn't well.
"In the Bible, it says that good food is our medicine," he reportedly told the station. "We fed her. We were feeding her chicken, potatoes, apples, cheese. We were giving her the good stuff."
He went on to call the death a "tragedy" saying "The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh."
[Photos: Kent County Jail]
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