The Michigan father and stepmother of a 5-year-old girl have been sentenced to life in prison for the child’s death.
Andrew and Hilery Maison, Mackenzie Maison’s father and stepmother, were convicted Jan. 29 of the first-degree murder of their daughter, The Times Herald reports. They are also accused of torturing her 3-year-old sister, Makayla.
Judge Daniel Kelly said March 10 it is the third child abuse case he has presided over in the community.
“What puzzles me is how, in a community so dedicated to combating child abuse and neglect, these conditions go undetected until it is too late,” Kelly said. “Those who saw and chose to do nothing are, in my mind, equally responsible for this crime. They must share the blame.”
The couple called 911 on May 27, 2015, because Mackenzie was not breathing. Testimony at the trial indicates she may have been dead for hours before the couple called for help.
"I just gave her a bath and she's not even, she's not even coherent, it doesn't even look like she's breathing right now," Hilery said, reports WDIV. "The last couple days or so our, my husband and I, our 5-year-old has been rebelling against food."
The Maisons reportedly abused, starved and tortured both children for months. As a result, Mackenzie was malnourished, dehydrated, bruised and had pneumonia before she died.
"It did not happen overnight, it didn't happen in a period of a few weeks; this took months to get to the point that these children were in the grave state they were in," Senior Assistant Prosecutor Mona Armstrong said. “It’s unfathomable how parents could not only allow that to happen, but to purposefully cause that to happen. That is a specific special kind of evil."
Mackenzie's sister, Makayla, survived and is alive and well.
“She doesn’t settle down … still smiling, still bubbly,” said the girl's’ mother, Shelby Coffee.
“Although Mackenzie was a strong soldier, she didn’t make it, but Mackenzie is always Makayla’s angel,” Coffee added. "She'll always be a spiritual role model, not only for her little sisters, but for me, my family and this community."