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Foster mom rejects plea deal

The woman accused of killing a 5-year-old Cedar Springs girl rejected a plea deal from Kent County prosecutors last week.

Joy Ann Heaven, 30, of Gaines Township, is charged with felony murder in the July death of her foster daughter, Emily Meno. Heaven was caring for both Emily and her twin sister, Tiffany, both special needs children, at the time of Emily’s death in July from a brain injury.

According to police, Heaven admitted that on July 15 she was frustrated with Emily for wetting her pants and being in the way, and that she shoved Emily hard enough to send her flying through the air. Heaven said Emily landed on her head and was unconscious for several minutes. She later took the child to the hospital, where she died two days later.

Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cohle took the stand at Heaven’s preliminary hearing last week, and testified that a child Emily’s age could not sustain that type of injury (sub-dural hematoma with bil-lateral retina hemorrhaging) from a push. He said it would take the force of an auto accident or a fall from two to three stories. Prosecutors offered Heaven a deal to plead guilty to second-degree murder, but her attorney said she was not ready to do that. Judge Steven Servaas adjourned the hearing for at least a week so that he could review the taped interview between Heaven and police. Another preliminary hearing has been set for September 15 at 3:45 p.m.

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