State Representative Pam Faris (D-Clio) introduced House Bill 5617 today that would allow prosecutors to charge individuals who commit murder during second degree child abuse with first degree murder.

“A Genesee County assistant prosecutor brought the issue to my attention following two fatal child abuse cases in our county,” said Faris. “We need to give prosecutors another tool for making sure these horrible actions stop.”

Currently, someone found guilty of second degree child abuse resulting in death could receive as little as 10 years.

In Genesee County, a 4-year-old boy was beaten to death by his mother’s boyfriend. The boy’s mother was present during the abuse and failed to seek medical attention, which contributed to his death. She was sentenced to 13-30 years for second degree murder and 2-4 years for second degree child abuse. The other instance involved a 9-year-old quadriplegic girl whose mother left her in a storage unit, where she starved to death. The woman was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years imprisonment. With this new bill, both of these women could have been charged with first degree murder and faced life sentences. 

Already this year, there have been a number of cases throughout Michigan in which child abusers received minimal sentences for a child’s death resulting from second degree child abuse. “This is a simple change to correct an obvious problem in state law. All child abusers who kill children deserve to face the possibility of life in prison,” said Faris.