Michigan Dad Guilty Of Murder In 10-Month-Old Girl's Death From Neglect

WWJ News
January 27, 2020 - 3:14 pm
Sam Welch

Sam Welch (credit: Kent County Sheriff's Office)

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GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) - The father of a 10-month-old girl has been convicted of her murder in western Michigan.

Jurors in Kent County saw startling photos of Mary Welch, who was found unresponsive in her family's Solon Township home in August of 2018. An autopsy found the child died of malnutrition and dehydration due to neglect. She weighed only 8 pounds. 

"She looked like a hundred-year-old baby. All skin and bones," said Assistant Prosecutor Kim Richardson, who called it a case of "torture."

Seth Welch faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

His attorney said the defendant and his wife didn't seek help because of their religious beliefs.

"Mr. Welch stated that doctors were untrustworthy and said doctors forged documents in 2014 against him and (4-year-old)," Child Protective Services investigators wrote in a petition to remove the couple's two older children from their care. 

When sending the murder case to trial, Judge Sara Smolenski said she was struck by Welch's statement to a 911 dispatcher where he described Mary as "dead as a door knob." Welch also told the dispatcher that he'd called his attorney about 90 minutes before calling 911 because he was unsure of what to do.

Defense lawyers argued that the parents thought their child was skinny, but not sickly, and didn't intentionally or knowingly cause harm.

Attorney Charles Clapp said "ineptitude" doesn't add up to child abuse. 

Smolenski countered that the damage was obvious and that the girl's death "is as horrific as it gets."

"I want to reiterate the fact that the baby did not die because of one missed meal. This is weeks and weeks," Smolenski said. "This isn't about being very skinny, this is about being dead."

The child's mother, Tatiana Fusari, is also charged with murder. Her trial is set to begin next month.