BEULAH, Mich. (AP/WWJ) – A northern Michigan woman accused of trying to kill her autistic daughter has pleaded guilty to first-degree child abuse.

Benzie County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Tang-Anderson says Kelli Stapleton entered the plea Tuesday morning. Stapleton had been scheduled to go on trial Wednesday on a charge of attempted murder.

Tang-Anderson says no sentencing date was set. The maximum punishment for the charge is life in prison.

The 46-year-old Stapleton is accused of trying to kill herself and her 14-year-old daughter last year by carbon monoxide poisoning by igniting charcoal grills inside a van.

Stapleton and her daughter were found unconscious Sept. 3, 2013, in the family’s van in Blaine Township, in rural part of Benzie County, a, west of Traverse City. 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.

Isabelle has severe autism and sometimes has violent outbursts, according to family members.

Stapleton’s blog had chronicled the challenges her family faced while caring for Isabelle; and the family told a local newspaper about their struggles with medical insurance and state and local agencies as they sought help for her.

The family told the Traverse City Record-Eagle that Stapleton had been injured by the teen and hospitalized twice; and the family was seeking further, expensive treatment to decrease Isabelle’s aggressive behavior.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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