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Long Prison Sentence For Ypsilanti Man In Toddler’s Death

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Michael James Curtiss (Booking photo)

Michael James Curtiss (Booking photo)

ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) – A Washtenaw County man has been sentenced to at least 30 years in prison for the death of his girlfriend’s 14-month-old son.

Judge Donald Shelton said it’s “the most egregious, horrible abuse of an innocent child” he’s seen in 23 years on the bench. Michael Curtiss apologized to the Chase Miller’s family, saying he’s not a cold-hearted person.

“All this is a terrible accident that should have never happened,” Curtiss, 34, said. “I should have been more careful with Chase.”

Chase died of blunt head trauma last fall while Curtiss was supposed to be watching him at his Ypsilanti Township apartment. According to court testimony, Curtiss revealed he pushed the 15-month-old boy into a TV stand while high on heroin.

But Washtenaw County Assistant Prosecutor Blake Hatlem said that wasn’t the only abuse Chase suffered that fateful night. He said Chase was covered in bruises and scrapes after being thrown against a wall and held on a toilet, which he later fell into.

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. Defense lawyer Lorne Brown said Chase’s death was an accident and direct result of “drugs and anger.”

Just hours before his trial was set to start in April, Curtiss pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse in a deal with prosecutors. Any release from prison will be up to the Michigan parole board.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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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