Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 6, 2013

Man sentenced to life in prison for infant's death

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A Peshawbestown man will spend the rest of his life in prison for the murder of his infant daughter on a northern Michigan Indian Reservation.

Steven William Deuman Jr. was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court after a jury in September found him guilty of murder and aggravated sexual abuse in the Aug. 12, 2011, death of the 3-month-old at the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians' reservation in Leelanau County. First-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence without parole.

Deuman told the FBI he put the baby to bed and went outside to smoke a cigarette. He said he heard her cry and returned to the room and found her face down on the floor with blood around her nose and mouth. He said he found a used condom in her mouth.

An autopsy revealed she was asphyxiated.

Federal authorities contend Deuman orally raped the girl.

Deuman's attorney, Richard Stroba, said forensic evidence didn't support the conviction. "There was no evidence that a sexual assault had occurred," he wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

He continued that Deuman was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and began life with "substantial impediments clearly not within his control that severely, negatively impacted his formative years."

Federal authorities investigated the death because it occurred on tribal land.