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Man Pleads No Contest To Killing Girlfriend’s Baby

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Michael James Curtiss (Booking photo)

Michael James Curtiss (Booking photo)

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ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) - Just hours before his trial was scheduled to begin, a Ypsilanti Township man accepted a plea deal in the death of his girlfriend’s 1-year-old son.

Michael Curtiss, 34, faces sentencing May 14 in the death of Chase Miller after pleading no-contest to second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse in a deal with prosecutors.

The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department said under the plea agreement, Curtiss will receive a minimum of 30 years in prison.

Curtiss was originally charged with an open count of murder, which could have led to a first-degree murder conviction and a mandatory life sentence. Defense lawyer Lorne Brown declined immediate comment.

Authorities say the toddler died in October of blunt force trauma to the head while he was under Curtiss’ care.

Police responded to Curtiss’ Ypsilanti Township home around 12:30 a.m. Oct 21 for a report of a child possibly choking. When authorities arrived, police said the child wasn’t breathing. Paramedics took the child to St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to court testimony, Curtiss revealed he pushed the 15-month-old boy into a TV stand while high on heroin. Curtiss told police he lost his temper when the boy vomited and urinated on himself and admitting to abusing the child before the fatal shove, AnnArbor.com reported. A medical examiner testified that the boy had bruises and scrapes on his legs, buttocks and genitals.

A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt, but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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