BEULAH, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A state psychologist says a northern Michigan mother charged with attempted murder in the carbon monoxide poisoning of her autistic 14-year-old daughter is competent to stand trial.
Kelli Stapleton’s defense requested the review by the state forensic center. Defense lawyer Heidi Hodek tells the Traverse City Record-Eagle she didn’t find the result surprising, based on her conversations with Stapleton.
A judge is to review the findings Thursday afternoon in Benzie County District Court in Beulah.
Stapleton, 45, and her daughter, Isabelle, were found unconscious Sept. 3 in the family’s van in Blaine Township, in rural part of Benzie County.
According to state police, coals had been burned in the van, the windows were rolled up, and holes were burned in the van’s carpeting.
Authorities said it was clearly an attempted murder-suicide.
Kelli Stapleton had chronicled in an online blog the challenges her family faced caring for Isabelle who has severe autism.
Earlier this year, the family told the Record-Eagle about their struggles with medical insurance and state and local agencies as they sought care for their then-13-year-old daughter. They said her acute autism at times led to violent outbursts from Isabelle.
Kelli Stapleton was injured and hospitalized twice; and the family was seeking further, expensive treatment to decrease Isabelle’s aggressive behavior.
“She’s gotten to that point where she can’t help herself, Matt Stapleton told the newspaper last January. “She’s hurting herself and she’s hurting others. She’ll always be autistic and she’ll always be with us, but unless we’re able to get some help for some of these behaviors she has, I don’t even know how to predict how the next 20 years will look like.”
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