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Second murder trial begins in case of Lansing toddler's death

Trial began last week in the case of a Lansing man charged with open murder, first-degree child abuse, and torture in the death of his girlfriend's two-year-old son. The toddler died April of last year, at a local hospital, and police called his death suspicious. The young boy's mother and her boyfriend were arrested and charged in connection with his death. The two suspects both attempted to place the blame on the other one for the toddler's death.

At the preliminary hearing for the suspects last summer, multiple witnesses testified that the toddler was abused due to potty-training issues. The medical examiner testified that the boy's liver was lacerated in three pieces, his lungs were bruised, and he suffered internal hemorrhaging. Pictures of the boy showed bruises on his face, especially severe around the eyes.

The boyfriend's motion for a separate trial was granted earlier this year, and the boy's mother was convicted in March of second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse, and torture. She claimed she was an innocent victim of the boyfriend, to no avail; she was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison.

Michigan law does not require a prosecutor to choose between first-degree or second-degree murder when issuing a complaint or at trial. An open murder charge allows a jury to decide which charge is most appropriate based on the evidence produced at trial. First-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. Second-degree murder carries the possibility of a life sentence, or any term of years.

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