A Port Huron, Michigan, father and stepmother of a 5-year-old girl will stand trial on murder, abuse, and torture charges in connection with her death.
On May 25, Hilery and Andrew Maison called 911 when their daughter Mackenzie, 5, became unresponsive. When paramedics arrived on the scene, they found the girl’s body cold and showing signs that she had been dead much longer than the 20 minutes her parents claimed.
Mackenzie had severe pneumonia and was extremely malnourished, reports New York Daily News. She weighed just 25 pounds when paramedics found her; the normal weight of a 5-year-old is around 40 pounds. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.
“This child would have been lethargic, not moving around and doing the things that a 5-year-old would do,” Dr. Daniel Spitz said. “Neglect, here in my terminology, is one where a child wasn’t given the basic necessities to live and to thrive.”
Authorities believe the abuse and neglect against Mackenzie lasted months, maybe years.
Mackenzie’s younger sister, Makayla, 3, was also found to be malnourished and underweight at 17 pounds. When police interviewed Makayla about her sister’s death, she reportedly was so weak she could not bite into an apple.
Makayla has since been released from the hospital and is recovering in foster care.
Judge Michael Hulewicz found that there was enough evidence against Hilery and Andrew to send them to trial on all counts of murder, torture, and abuse, reports WDIV.
"I find it difficult to understand how these defendants didn't have the intent to do this," Hulewicz said. "This court does find that there is probable cause on all of the counts."
Hilery has contested the charges, and her attorney, Michael Boucher, told the court he is still waiting for an autopsy report.
According to the parents, they were unaware Mackenzie was sick.
“These children were dying in front of these defendants and they did absolutely nothing,” prosecutor Mona Armstrong said in court. “That is demonstrative of intent and purposeful behavior.”
Hilery’s biological children, ages 10 and 1, have been placed into foster care. They reportedly appear to be in good health.
Photo Credit: New York Daily News