Child abuse conviction stands

LANSING – An Escanaba woman convicted of first-degree child abuse in 2012 recently failed to get her prison sentence overturned by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Angel Dawn Micheau, 23, was sentenced in Delta County Circuit Court on April 26, 2012, to 75 months to up to 15 years in prison. A jury found her guilty of first-degree child abuse for knowingly or intentionally causing serious physical injury to her three-month-old baby.

Micheau was convicted of causing second-degree burns on her child during an incident on April 11, 2011. Further medical testing revealed the infant had 17 rib fractures, a fractured arm, and a fractured clavicle.

During the 2012 trial, several witnesses, including Micheau’s husband, testified there were many incidents when the mother physically abused her pregnant belly and the baby after birth.

While testifying on her own behalf, Micheau denied ever abusing her daughter. She told the court she believed she did not do anything to cause the child’s burns or broken bones.

Less than one month after Micheau’s sentencing, her attorney filed an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals on May 29, 2012. The court affirmed the local court’s conviction and sentencing in a document issued on Tuesday.

Micheau’s appeal claimed Delta County Circuit Court should not have allowed the defendant’s other acts of violence to be admitted as evidence during the trial.

The court of appeals document stated, “The evidence of defendant’s other acts was relevant to show defendant’s intent and motive.”

The court of appeals document also stated the jury was instructed by the circuit court judge that the defendant is on trial for the alleged act and not other bad acts.

“The trial court thus instructed the jury that they must not convict defendant because of her other acts but must find that defendant had committed the alleged acts that upon which the charge against her was based,” according to the court of appeals document.

“Jurors are presumed to follow their instructions,” the document continued, adding the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the evidence of other acts.

Micheau’s appeal also claimed the defendant was deprived of the right of an unanimous verdict because the jury instructions failed to identify which incident formed the basis for the jury’s conviction.

The appeals court decision stated Micheau’s attorney waived comment on the jury instructions during the trial.

“The jury was instructed in accordance with the plain language of the child abuse statute,” according to the appeals decision, “…and there is simply no evidence on this record that the jurors were confused or that they had reason to disagree about the factual basis of the defendant’s guilt.”

Micheau’s appeal also claimed the court erred in the pre-sentence investigation’s scoring which determines the sentencing range. The offense variable addressing aggravated physical abuse was scored at the highest at 50 points.

The court of appeals stated the trial court correctly assessed the score because the defendant’s conduct met the definition for aggravated physical abuse including amounting to sadism or excessive brutality.

The fourth claim in Micheau’s appeal argued the trial court “engaged in judicial fact-finding that increased her minimum sentence.”

The court of appeals rejected the defendant’s claim of error and stated Michigan’s sentencing guidelines are within a broad sentencing discretion which does not violate the Sixth Amendment.

Micheau is lodged at the Huron Valley Complex for Women where she is serving a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for first-degree child abuse. Her earliest release date is Jan. 19, 2018 and her maximum discharge date is Oct. 19, 2026.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,