Traverse City Record-Eagle


September 24, 2013

Stapleton case: Accused mother's words to police detailed

BEULAH — An Elberta woman accused of trying to kill her autistic daughter told authorities that years of frustration with the child’s behavior and condition led her to believe the best solution was if they both “went to heaven,” according to newly obtained court records.

A court transcript documents the statements authorities say Kelli Stapleton, 45, made to state police and medical personnel shortly after she and her daughter Issy, 14, were found unconscious inside a van in rural Benzie County on Sept. 3. Both were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning and Issy may have suffered permanent brain damage.

Stapleton’s attorney, Brian Johnson, said he’s reviewing all evidence in the case, including “unsolicited” comments to a state trooper that Stapleton intended to take her own life and her daughter’s life. The comments were detailed in a transcript of a Sept. 4 warrant authorization hearing obtained by the Record-Eagle on Monday.

“Yes we’re looking at that,” he said. “We’re looking at all aspects of this case and evaluating just about everything out there.”

Johnson expects a preliminary examination on an attempted murder charge in 85th District Court, scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m., to be delayed until after a requested medical competency hearing.

“We’re asking for a determination to see if she’s competent to stand trial,” Johnson said.

The competency hearing is scheduled for Oct. 10 at 10 a.m.

Johnson said Monday he hadn’t yet spoke to Stapleton about a divorce complaint her husband Matt Stapleton has filed. Matt Stapleton, who is prinicipal of Frankfort High School, requests full legal and physical custody of the couple’s three children. The couple married 17 years ago.

Matt Stapleton’s attorney, John Grogan, declined to comment.

The court transcript obtained by the newspaper states Michigan State Police Det. Sgt. Rick Sekely testified Kelli Stapleton said she lured Issy into the vehicle with a promise they were going camping and would cook s’mores.

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