Like a lot of daddy abusers, STEVEN L. NICHOLSON has his loyal posse and they just can't say enough nice stuff about him. But when you get beyond the vague praise and down to the facts, what you have is this: a father with a history of drug/alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and other "petty" criminal offenses who still managed to get FULL CUSTODY of his 13-month-old son, and PARTIAL custody of his 15-month-old daughter (different mothers). Both children are now dead--scalded by hot water and drowned, presumably while Daddy slept. Had this been a mother, nobody would be buying this as an excuse ("what a lazy slut!") In addition, the police found Daddy with the children laying before him. Just a coincidence? And somehow, given Daddy's history, I seriously wonder if this was, in fact, just an accident.
I also have to wonder how Daddy got full custody of the little boy, and who granted it to him. Will the judge or other court officials who made this decision own up to it? Doubt it.
Toddlers' dad: 'I was asleep.'
Doug Guthrie / The Detroit News
Allen Park— The father of two toddlers was charged today with murder and child abuse in their drowning and scalding deaths.
Steven L. Nicholson, 27, who was handcuffed, sobbed and shook his head in disagreement as 24th District Judge John Courtright read the six felony charges against him, including felony murder and first-degree child abuse.
The murder counts are punishable by up to life in prison without parole; the child-abuse counts carry penalties of up to 15 years.
"I was asleep," Nicholson said through his tears as officers led him out of the court after his arraignment.
Nicholson dialed 911 about 2 a.m. Tuesday to report Ella Stafford, 15 months, and her half brother Jonathon Sanderlin, 13 months, had drowned in the bathtub. Authorities sought charged when autopsies showed the two drowned and were scalded by hot water.
Nicholson, who has been in police custody since Tuesday, was ordered today by Courtright to remain in the Wayne County Jail pending a Nov. 1 preliminary examination of the evidence in the case.
Police read elements of the arrest warrant into the court record, revealing that when officers arrived, they found Nicholson sitting on the wet floor of his garden-level unit at the Spring Valley Apartment complex, the children's bodies lying before him. The boy had red burn marks on his face, arms, legs and torso. The girl also had burns on her legs.
"The alleged facts in this case have affected even the most seasoned prosecutors in this office," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a news release. "We stand ready to bring this case to justice in a court of law."
Nicholson had full custody of the boy and partial custody of the girl, according to his family. The children had separate mothers.
Several family members cried as Nicholson appeared in court today. One woman cried out, "We know you didn't do it."
Nicholson's cousin Corey Nicholson, 19, of Dearborn Heights said after the hearing, "You can only imagine what he's going through. The last thing he saw was his two babies dead, and now he's being told he did it."
Corey Nicholson said he used to babysit the children and that his cousin "loved and wanted to be a good dad" to them "and live up to his responsibilities for having those babies."
He said Steven Nicholson had an on-again, off-again relationship with Ella's mother, Tayler Stafford, who had regular contact with the children.
Corey Nicholson said he believes the toddlers may have climbed into the tub and that one of them turned on the hot water. He said Jonathon always followed Ella. "The only thing I can think of is Ella crawled into the bathroom and Jonathon followed her," Corey Nicholson said. "It's a sad story."
Corey Nicholson said Steven Nicholson called another relative from jail and said he was "frightened and depressed."
Some neighbors in the complex described Nicholson as "rude." Others said he was a good father to the children. Nicholson's mother has told The News that he has a drinking problem, and sometimes carried a pint of liquor in a back pocket.
Nicholson has a lengthy record of mostly misdemeanors, including malicious destruction of property and alcohol and marijuana offenses. Some of the offenses date to his teenage years. Police said they've been called to the home before.
Court authorities confirmed Nicholson at one time faced a domestic abuse charge but declined to release the records.
Services for Ella will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at Martenson Funeral Home, Allen Park, 10915 Allen Road. Jonathan's funeral is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Peterson Funeral Home Inc., 205 E. Cass in Cadillac.
Memorials can be sent to any Fifth Third Bank, c/o the memorial fund of Ella Grace Stafford.
From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20101022/METRO01/10220423/1409/METRO/Toddlers%E2%80%99-dad-arraigned-on-murder--child-abuse-charges#ixzz136yUCFau