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Mom found guilty in baby’s death

By Judy Reed

Tatiana Elena Fusari

A Solon Township mother was found guilty last week of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse in the death of her infant daughter. 

Tatiana Elena Fusari, 30, heard the verdict after just three hours of deliberation by jurors.

Fusari’s defense was that her husband, Seth Welch, 30, abused her physically, mentally and emotionally, leaving her unable to care for their 10-month-old daughter Mary. 

Fusari originally pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and second-degree child abuse in January, 2020, after her Welch was convicted on first-degree murder and child abuse charges. Those charges carry a sentence of mandatory life in prison. Fusari’s plea carried a minimum of 25 years.

She later withdrew her plea to second-degree murder after a Michigan Supreme Court ruling that said that duress could be asserted as an affirmative defense to murder if it was a defense to the underlying felony. The opinion is dated March 30, 2020.

The move was a big gamble for Fusari, because once she withdrew her second-degree murder plea, she faced the original first-degree murder and child abuse charges and risked mandatory life in prison without parole if convicted, which happened last week.

She is due to be sentenced on November 17.

The couple found their baby dead in her crib on Thursday, August 2, 2018, and called authorities at 12:06 p.m. to their home at 16509 Algoma Avenue, known by many in the community as Blackacre Farm. The baby was pronounced dead at the scene.

An officer at the scene reported that the baby’s eyes and cheeks were sunken into her head and her muscles were so weak she could not crawl or lift her head. 

Fusari had said she had fed the baby before going to work at her second shift job. 

In a conversation with the dispatcher, Seth Welch said that they had put Mary to bed at 3 p.m. and found her dead at 10 a.m. the next morning—after 19 hours in her crib. He then waited two hours before calling 911. He said that he had waited before calling 911 because he didn’t know what to do and had called his lawyer first. According to the prosecutor, Welch called his parents, texted someone about selling a goat, and googled why a rapper was kidnapped before he called 911. 

When the dispatcher asked how he was holding up, Welch said, “You know, just another day. It is what it is.” 

They reportedly told investigators they just thought the baby was skinny, like her older sister had been. They had never taken Mary to a doctor because Welch said they didn’t trust them after being reported to CPS by one they disagreed with over the care of their oldest daughter.

An autopsy revealed the cause of death was ruled as malnutrition/dehydration due to neglect on the part of the adult caregivers. The pathologist said he found no metabolic diseases or parasites that would keep her from absorbing nutrients.

Police testified that during the investigation, Welch said his daughter’s death was part of natural selection, and he also told them he wasn’t losing any sleep over it.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office said they had only responded to the home once before on a matter unrelated to child welfare. 

The other two children were removed from the home and placed with grandparents, and a third child, that Fusari had while in jail, was placed with another family.

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