Mother not responsible for murder, attorney says

HARRISVILLE — An attorney this week will challenge a murder charge related to the death of 2-year-old Jayde McDonnell, who died this summer after suffering horrific physical abuse, according to autopsy reports.

Alcona County Prosecutor Thomas Weichel in July charged Adrienne Pavelka with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, who died several days after alleged abuse by Aaron Trout, Pavelka’s boyfriend, at his home in Glennie.

Police say Pavelka provided the child some care after the abuse but did not seek medical help until the child died.

Trout has also been charged with murder in the child’s death. Both have entered not-guilty pleas.

In October, Judge Laura Frawley in the 81st District Court in Harrisville bound Pavelka over to the 23rd Circuit Court, saying Weichel had presented enough evidence for Pavelka to continue toward trial.

Matt Wojda, attorney for Pavelka, challenged that ruling in a motion filed last week, saying Pavelka’s actions, or inaction, don’t constitute murder.

Pavelka was cowed into silence and had no recourse for seeking medical help on her own, Wojda said, refuting the murder charge and two other charges alleging Pavelka abused the child by not seeking help after Trout’s alleged violence and for not protecting the child from him in the first place.

At the October hearing, witnesses recounted Pavelka’s descriptions of Trout’s alleged abuse.

Trout had mistreated the child — who, along with Pavelka, was living with him in Glennie — for some time, growing increasingly abusive as the adults attempted to toilet train the girl, witnesses said.

On July 19, Trout allegedly repeatedly threw the child in a rage, striking her head on a wall and the floor.

The couple sought no medical treatment for the badly injured child, who lay mostly unresponsive for days until she died and was taken by the couple to MyMichigan Medical Center-Alpena, witnesses said.

According to Pavelka, as related by witnesses, the mother was afraid to tell anyone about the abuse because Trout had threatened her and her family, and she was unable to take the girl to seek treatment because she could not drive.

Even if she knew Trout to be abusive, Pavelka can’t be charged for allowing him to have access to the child, because she couldn’t have known his violence would escalate to a deadly level, Wojda said in the motion, calling Pavelka’s actions in keeping the girl in Trout’s home “reckless at worst.”

The court also can’t hold Pavelka responsible for failing to seek medical help when, by her account, she was herself held hostage by Trout, Wojda said.

The prosecution can’t prove the absence of a doctor’s care actually harmed the child. Had Pavelka sought that treatment, the child’s severe injuries could have killed her anyway, he said.

An autopsy report, included with Wojda’s motion, describes pooled and clotted blood inside the girl’s skull and acute damage to the brain.

The postmortem examination named cerebral injuries caused by multiple blunt force trauma as the cause of death, indicating the manner of death was homicide.

The medical examiner documented more than 100 bruises, abrasions, and ligature marks on the girl’s body, including more than 20 injuries to the head and neck and ligature marks on her ankles and wrists.

Adhesive bandages on the girl’s head, chest, and wrist showed evidence of attempts at treatment, according to the autopsy report.

Weichel, who has filed a response to Wojda’s motion, will argue his response at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Pavelka and Trout are incarcerated at the Iosco County Jail.

Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693, jriddle@thealpenanews.com or on Twitter @jriddleX.


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