ROGERS CITY - A Rogers City woman pleaded guilty Monday in Presque Isle County Circuit Court to involuntary manslaughter of her newborn child by failing to seek medical help.
Karrie Lynn Mulka, 29, told the court she is guilty of the felony charge for which she was arrested last year. She was found fit to stand trial and bound over to circuit court earlier in 2012. After waiving her arraignment, her attorney asked for a polygraph test, stating Mulka's baby was not alive when born.
Mulka told the court she gave birth to a baby girl on or around June 27, 2011, in her parents' home. Although she was semi-conscious after giving birth to the child, Mulka said she could have called out to her father, who was waiting in another room. She didn't call for help, and the child died.
Judge Scott Pavlich heard Mulka's plea, and questioned what seemed like an inconsistency in her story. Originally, she told the court she had given birth to the child and was in and out of consciousness until after the child had died. After a break, Terri Tringali, her attorney, said Mulka had become upset and confused. Pavlich repeated his questioning.
"You're either guilty or you're not," he said. "You were either semi-conscious or you consciously chose not to seek help."
Mulka had been arrested in November 2011 on a charge of involuntary manslaughter, according to Rogers City police. Initially, she was too hysterical to speak with Tringali. As a result, her attorney asked for, and received, a competency evaluation after she appeared in district court.
Mulka was found fit to stand trial, and was scheduled for a polygraph test on May 29. Tringali said the baby was dead at birth, and Mulka would take a polygraph test to prove her claim, according to Presque Isle County Prosecutor Rick Steiger.
Had the test indicated the child was born alive, Mulka would have gone to trial in circuit court for the original involuntary manslaughter charge, Steiger said. He couldn't comment as to whether the polygraph test took place.
After making her plea, Mulka won't go to trial, where she likely would have faced a second-degree murder charge, Steiger said. She could have faced life in prison for the charge, had she been found guilty.
Steiger declined to comment further on the case, pending sentencing.
Tringali also declined to comment on the case.
Pavlich accepted Mulka's plea, and scheduled her sentencing for Aug. 22. She could spend up to 15 years in jail, pay $7,500, or both.
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.