The murder of a six-month old East Lansing baby is a real-life test to see the real values of Michigan's new Gov. Rick Snyder who has promised to lead the reinvention of our state.
The issue: a 26-year-old dad is accused of murdering the baby over an extended period of time and Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings was seen on local television news last night with tears in his eyes as he discussed the case and the charge. Prosecutors don't shed tears and I've seen nothing from Dunnings over the years to indicate anything different.
There are different layers to this kind of case and the prosecution is one, while another is the involvement of the state's Child Protective Services (CPS) in protecting kids where there's evidence of abuse or neglect.
Michigan has law that's pretty clear about abuse and neglect and it spends millions to investigate and act on such cases. And it has the Michigan Office of Children's Ombudsman, an independent state office to investigate the state's handling of such cases.
Lots of questions exist about the care for this young child and the state's response to concerns about his treatment. Was the state involved? The local media fails to ask the question.
Here's a story about the case from WLNS along with the video:
Here's the Lansing State Journal story about the case.
Why am I interested in this case?
During my last job as a staffer in the Michigan House of Representatives, I had a chance to see close-up the state's response to the murder of a two-year-old from the Port Huron area. The parents were found guilty of murdering her and are in prison.
A Detroit Free Press series of stories found that the state's human services machinery dropped the ball in returning the child back to the parents who then tortured and killed her. While the state sat on the details of the case, the reporter shared a narrative about child protection machinery that failed.
Is that what happened here? Do local state legislators have the will to call for an investigation?
Gov. Snyder needs to use his CEO skills and find out the state's involvement which would include the complete story, the good, bad and ugly.