A Michigan mother who last month was convicted of killing her infant baby daughter will spend the rest of her days behind bars. Kent County Judge Paul J. Denefeld on Wednesday sentenced Tatiana Fusari, 30, to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Mary Welch, the defendant’s 10-month-old daughter, Grand Rapids Fox affiliate WXMI reported.
A Kent County jury on Oct. 15 found Fusari guilty on charges of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse. Judge Denefeld also reportedly sentenced Fusari 15 to 30 years on the child abuse charge. That sentence will run concurrent with the life sentence. The defendant was also ordered to pay all fines and court costs.
During the proceedings, Damian Nunzio, Fusari’s attorney, told the court that he and his client planned on appealing her case as soon as they can.
Fusari reportedly did not speak during Wednesday’s proceeding.
Video of how Fusari and her husband Seth Welch reacted after they were initially charged has been viewed more than 11 million times. Welch could be seen with mouth agape as he learned that he faced life without parole, while Fusari cried.
Mary was the couple’s third child. Their fourth child was born while Fusari was jailed.
Seth Welch was similarly convicted in January 2020 of murder and child abuse for killing Mary and was also sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Fusari, a New York native, initially pleaded no contest to charges of second-degree murder and second-degree child abuse, but the court allowed her to withdraw that plea and let a jury decide her fate.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, an autopsy performed by a county medical examiner determined that Mary’s death was the result of malnutrition and dehydration. Prosecutors alleged that the infant hadn’t been fed in days, having gained only a single pound in the ten months since her birth.
During her criminal trial, Fusari testified that she was the victim of abuse at the hands of her husband for years, telling jurors that Welch had held a gun to her head and raped her.
“He takes the AK out of the closet and he tells me to get on my knees and he puts the gun to my head,” she testified, according to a report from Grand Rapids NBC affiliate WOOD-TV. “And at this point I don’t know why he’s angry. I don’t know what I could’ve done this time for him to be so upset with me to put a gun to my head.”
Fusari said Welch also attempted to perform an exorcism on her when she was pregnant with their fourth and youngest child.
“He was reading verses from the Bible as he was taking his open palm and smacking me in between my shoulder blades over and over — and he was just saying things like, ‘Demon, be gone!’” she reportedly said.
Fusari contended that the abuse at the hands of Welch ultimately prevented her from being able to protect her child. She also repeatedly claimed that she fed and nursed Mary despite the fact that the autopsy revealed “that she had not had any food for days,” according to prosecutors.
Welch called 911 on Aug. 2, 2018 and reported that he found Mary dead in her crib, Law&Crime previously reported. Nunzio asserted that the constant abuse left his client a mere shell of the person she was prior to meeting Welch.
“She was prevented from caring for her child the way she wanted to,” Nunzio said. “He threatened to kill her, and he would beat her up.”
According to prosecutors, the medical examiner determined that the child had been dead for at least 72 hours before the 911 call. An officer who responded to scene described Mary’s cheeks and eyes as being “sunken into her head.”
In subsequent interviews with investigators, the couple allegedly claimed that they had noticed their daughter was getting thin up to a month before, the Detroit Free Press reported. According to police, Fusari said they didn’t bring the child to a doctor because they worried about Child Protective Services, lacked trust in medical services, and had religious reasons against it.
[image via WOOD-TV screengrab]
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