Mom accused of trying to kill girl OK'd for trial

AP News
Posted: Dec 19, 2013 8:41 PM
Mom accused of trying to kill girl OK'd for trial

BEULAH, Mich. (AP) — A northern Michigan mother charged with attempted murder in the carbon monoxide poisoning of her autistic 14-year-old daughter is competent to stand trial, a judge ruled Thursday.

Kelli Stapleton's defense attorney asked that the state forensic center evaluate her client. A psychologist's report concluded she's mentally fit for trial. Defense lawyer Heidi Hodek said she didn't find the result surprising, based on her conversations with her client.

District Judge John Mead in Beulah accepted the finding Thursday. The judge scheduled a probable-cause hearing Dec. 26. Mead set bond at $1.5 million, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.

Authorities have said that say they found Stapleton and her daughter Isabelle unconscious Sept. 3 in the family's van in Benzie County's Blaine Township in an apparent murder-suicide attempt.

The family is well-known in their small community of Elberta, which is near Lake Michigan and about 150 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

Stapleton's blog had chronicled the challenges her family faced caring for Isabelle, who has severe autism and sometimes had violent outbursts.

Stapleton wrote that her daughter, nicknamed Issy, had completed an intense program for severely autistic children near Kalamazoo, but her education plan had been abruptly changed by school officials.

"I have to admit that I'm suffering from a severe case of battle fatigue," Stapleton wrote on her blog, The Status Woe, shortly before the incident.