DETROIT (AP) — Prosecutors on Friday accused a father and stepmother of intentional, persistent abuse and neglect of two young girls, one dead and the other fighting for her life in a Detroit hospital.
Andrew and Hilery Maison were charged with murder, torture and child abuse after authorities say 5-year-old Mackenzie Maison and her 3-year-old sister were found malnourished, dehydrated and abused.
Mackenzie was found unresponsive Tuesday in a home in Port Huron and pronounced dead at a hospital. Her younger sister was being treated at the Children's Hospital of Michigan. Port Huron is 55 miles northeast of Detroit.
Bond was denied and not-gulity pleas entered during video arraignments for the Maisons, who were arrested Tuesday. Hilery Maison denied the charges and asked for an attorney. Andrew Maison also has no lawyer. The next hearing was set for June 9.
Assistant Prosecutor Mona Armstrong said Mackenzie was 25 pounds at the time of her death, and was suffering from pneumonia and a genital infection. Her 3-year-old sister weighs 17 pounds. A girl of 3 would normally be around 30 pounds and a girl of 5 years should be about 40 pounds, though that can vary based on height and other factors.
Armstrong described both girls as "severely malnourished."
Armstrong said two other children, aged 10 and 1, were placed in foster care and appeared to be healthy. She said they are believed to be Hilery Maison's biological children.
"There are two victims in this particular case," Armstrong said. The girls were "severely neglected" and denied food and nourishment over the course of "weeks to months," she said.
An autopsy was completed Thursday, but results haven't been made public. Medical examiners also are awaiting lab test results.
"It's heartbreaking," St. Clair County Prosecutor Mike Wendling told The Associated Press. "It's not the type of case any prosecutor wants to handle, but it has to be handled."
Wendling said there are many unanswered questions about the history of the girls' conditions but that evidence to be presented in court would show malicious intent.
"I think the facts will establish ... why two children (were) treated differently than the other two," he said.