Monday, November 15, 2010

Custodial dad to be tried on murder charges in drowning, scalding of two toddlers (Allen Park, Michigan)

Dad STEVEN NICHOLSON had "shared custody" of the daughter he is accused of murdering, and--according to other sources--"full custody" of the son. The more I read about what he did to this boy, the angrier I get. This guy should NEVER have been awarded custody, and the mother should NEVER have been punished for trying to keep this violent POS from seeing her son. Still waiting to see the name of the judge who set up this boy's horrible and painful death by stripping the mother of custody and giving it to the father.

Last Updated: November 15. 2010 2:17PM

Dad to be tried in drowning, scalding of 2 toddlers
Steve Pardo / The Detroit News

Allen Park— The 27-year-old Allen Park man accused of drowning his two toddlers will stand trial for murder, a judge ordered this afternoon.

Judge Richard Page of 24th District Court ruled there was enough evidence presented against Steven Nicholson to try him on six felony charges, including two counts each of first-degree murder, felony murder and first-degree child abuse.

Nicholson is to be arraigned Nov. 22 at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit. If convicted, Nicholson faces life in prison without parole for the felony murder counts, life for the first-degree murder counts and 15 years for the child abuse counts.

During testimony this morning at Nicholson's preliminary hearing, Wayne County's chief medical examiner testified that 15-month-old Ella Stafford and her 13-month-old half-brother, Jonathon Sanderlin, each died as a result of intentional drowning.

Dr. Carl Schmidt said foreign matter — possibly toilet paper, possibly fibers from a towel — was found deep in the lungs of both children.

Both also suffered scalding burns. Jonathon had second and third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body — burns so severe that he wouldn't have survived even if he hadn't drowned, Schmidt said.

"Strictly speaking, he was completely immersed in hot water for some time," Schmidt said. "He had a diaper on (so) the groin was spared from scalding but for all practical purposes the rest of the skin — was cooked."

He said the scalding most likely occurred on both children after they drowned.

Police found the children Oct. 19 after Nicholson called 911 in the middle of the night. He told police that he fell asleep and found the toddlers in the tub.

Carin Goldfarb, Wayne County assistant prosecutor, next called Ella's mother, Tayler Stafford.

Stafford, 19, testified she had lived with Nicholson but moved out in September. The pair shared custody and she would see her daughter almost every day.

Stafford, breaking down on the stand, said her daughter could walk and run and could get into a bathtub.

She also testified her daughter could cry and scream if she was hurt.

"Did you ever see, in the nights you spent with your daughter, (her) get out of her crib?" Goldfarb asked.

"No," Stafford said. She added her daughter "was a really heavy sleeper" and didn't get out of her crib at night.

Both children would scramble and "try to get away" if they were in a kiddie pool or had water poured over their heads, she said.

Nicholson called Stafford twice Oct. 19 at 2:03 and 2:04 a.m., she said. She didn't answer the phone.

Stafford said Nicholson was a kind father to Ella. With Jonathon, she said, "not so much."

"He would yell at him, pick him up by his arms, or hit him," Stafford said.

When asked if Nicholson called his son names, Stafford answered, "Lazy. Fat heifer. Those are just two things I can think of."

From The Detroit News: