Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Custodial dad wants new venue, separate trial in torture-murder of 5-year-old daughter (Port Huron, Michigan)

The custodial dad is identified as ANDREW MAISON. We've posted on this case before. According to previous posts, dad legally speaking had joint custody, but shut off the mother's contact. Of course, the authorities don't object when the daddy does that--just the mom.


Father wants new venue, separate trial in death of girl, 5

Beth LeBlanc, Times Herald 4:51 p.m. EDT October 13, 2015

A Port Huron father is asking to be tried separately from his wife in the death of his 5-year-old daughter.

Frederick Lepley, Andrew Maison’s lawyer, states in the motion that his client would not receive a fair trial if he were tried alongside Hilery Maison.

“The Defendant Andrew Maison worked long hours outside the home, and left the child care duties relating to nutrition, medical care and discipline primarily to his wife,” the motion states. “…

Defendant Andrew Maison would be substantially prejudiced if he is tried with his co-defendant.

There is a high risk that a jury could hold him responsible for the neglect or abuse perpetrated by his wife.”

Mackenzie was found unresponsive at the Maisons’ Oak Street home May 26 after her stepmother, Hilery Maison, called 911.

Mackenzie was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police said she was malnourished, dehydrated and had pneumonia. She weighed 25 pounds.

Her 3-year-old sister, Makayla, was taken to the hospital for treatment of malnourishment. She weighed 17 pounds.

Hilery and Andrew Maison are facing charges of murder, two counts of torture and two counts of first-degree child abuse in Mackenzie’s death and Makayla’s alleged abuse.

Senior Assistant Prosecutor Mona Armstrong said the prosecutor’s office will oppose the request for separate trials.

“There really is no factual basis to support the request,” Armstrong said.

While there are circumstances that lead to separate trials for co-defendants, Armstrong said she doesn’t believe those circumstances apply in the Maisons' case.

Lepley also filed a motion for a change of venue Monday. The motion argues that demonstrators outside the courthouse, people wearing shirts demanding justice during the preliminary examination and media coverage of the case could prejudice jurors.

Lepley asks that either the venue is changed or those factors are considered during jury selection.

“…Potential jurors cannot, under the circumstances, be expected to remain impartial in light of the barrage of media coverage and social media posts that depict the Defendant as the person responsible for the death and or abuse,” the motion states.

Michael Boucher, Hilery Maison’s lawyer, also filed several motions last week, including one for a change of venue due to media coverage and negative community sentiment toward the Maisons.

The motions filed on behalf of Andrew and Hilery Maison will be discussed during an Oct. 19 hearing.

Boucher said he doesn't intend to file for a separate trial for Hilery Maison.

"We maintain that there is potentially an organic cause of this problem," Boucher said. "I have no intention of maintaining that one party is more responsible than the other.”

During a hearing Monday, Boucher and Lepley said they had located a pathologist who could possibly testify about other disorders or diseases that could have caused Mackenzie's death and Makayla's low weight and weakness.

They asked Circuit Judge Daniel Kelly to delay the trial to after March 1 to explore the possibility of other contributing causes. Kelly denied the request. The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 3.

Calls to Lepley were not immediately returned.