‘I think I should be locked up’

Eastpointe woman accused of letting newborn die is convicted of murder

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published March 8, 2016

 Defense Attorney Steven Kaplan argues that while his client, Angela Alexie, is responsible for the death of her newborn child on Dec. 24, 2014, she does not meet the criteria for the high-level charges of felony murder and first-degree child abuse.

Defense Attorney Steven Kaplan argues that while his client, Angela Alexie, is responsible for the death of her newborn child on Dec. 24, 2014, she does not meet the criteria for the high-level charges of felony murder and first-degree child abuse.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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MOUNT CLEMENS — Angela Alexie, an Eastpointe resident charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse, went to trial in Macomb County Circuit Court March 1 for her actions that allegedly caused her newborn son’s death in December 2014.

After the trial stretched to a fourth day, the jury found Alexie guilty of first-degree child abuse and first-degree felony murder — meaning she caused the infant’s death as the result of felonious behavior. Her criminal sentencing was scheduled for April 19.

According to Alexie’s testimony to police, shown in a recording during the trial, she said that she had given birth to the newborn boy on Dec. 22, 2014, in the garage of the house she was staying in on Gascony. Alexie said she had not told anyone about the pregnancy and hid the infant in the garage — wrapped in towels and an old T-shirt — checking on him every few hours to try to feed him.

Alexie said the child, who she wanted to name Robert but who was officially known as “baby John Doe,” would not latch onto her breast to feed, and when she went out Dec. 24, he had died. She told police that she had intended to take him to the Fire Department to give him up for adoption, but she felt too weak after giving birth to walk there. She did not want to call 911 for help, as she had already had three children taken by Child Protective Services and wanted to give the newborn up herself, according to the recording.

Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo argued that Alexie saw the baby less as a child, and more as an impediment to her social life, saying that she was sleeping with several men at the time and told police she did not know who the father was.

“This is a tragedy that could have been averted. He was 20 feet from salvation,” Cataldo said. “She could have taken that child inside, to warmth, at which point baby Robert would have survived and I doubt we would be here today.”

After the baby’s death, Cataldo said, Alexie allegedly left the body hidden in the garage until around Jan. 14, when she put it in a garbage bag and left it near the recycling and garbage bins. She told police in her video testimony that she had intended to bury the body in her parents’ backyard, but someone must have put the bag into the recycling, leading to its discovery in a Roseville recycling center Jan. 15.

An autopsy found that the infant died from hypothermia; nothing appeared to be in the baby’s stomach.

Defense attorney Steven Kaplan did not argue that what Alexie did was “reprehensible,” but he did not believe that the case met the criteria for first-degree child abuse and felony murder. Instead, he argued, she should be convicted for involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse. The greater charges require proving that she intended to cause great bodily harm, Kaplan said, suggesting that Alexie is simply not a good parent, rather than a malicious one.

“Her children were taken away because she is not qualified to be a parent,” Kaplan said. “She has never held a job; she didn’t finish 11th grade. After giving birth, she didn’t act appropriately, but did she knowingly create a situation where a high risk of death or bodily harm was likely to occur?”

The defendant’s mother, Vera Alexie, remarked in her testimony that she does not believe her daughter has any skill as a parent.

Angela Alexie’s eldest two sons currently are in the custody of her ex-boyfriend’s sister, Amy Lesniak, while her third child, a girl, is with a foster family. Lesniak said in her own testimony that Angela Alexie clearly loved her sons and played with them during her weekly visits, but those visits became more infrequent in the latter part of 2014 before stopping entirely.

Lesniak said that when Alexie was pregnant with her third child, she had tried to hide it, only admitting she was pregnant when Lesniak became suspicious and confronted her about it. Lesniak said she became concerned when she saw the same signs again in 2014 — a fuller face; baggy, figure-hiding clothing; and weight gain.

She alerted Child Protective Services during Alexie’s pregnancy with the third child, Lesniak said, and also mentioned her suspicions in early summer 2014. She noticed on Facebook that Alexie had started posting photos in early January 2015 where she no longer looked pregnant, and became suspicious, eventually contacting the Roseville Police Department.

Lesniak was put in touch with Lt. Raymond Blarek and Detective Brad McKenzie. Lesniak said that since police initially thought the discovery of the infant was related to a case in Lansing, she thought nothing of it at first, but once that Lansing theory fell through, she became concerned about Alexie. She put them in touch with the CPS caseworker, Elizabeth Heath, who in turn was able to help them get in touch with Alexie and figure out where she was living.

McKenzie said that when they called Alexie, she initially told them she could not come in to the station to talk because of a work engagement.

Worried that she was a flight risk, the two officers went to Eastpointe to try and meet with her, and Alexie voluntarily went with them to the police station. She initially told them she had given birth in Kennedy Park and was stuck there, too weak to leave until the baby died, before admitting she had given birth in the garage at the house, according to testimony.

Alexie also reportedly told police that she had an unpaid phone bill that had rendered her phone useless during the baby’s life; however, cellphone records showed that she had sent text messages and photos during that period. McKenzie said that his own manual inspection of the cellphone showed that phone calls had been made in that period as well.

McKenzie said that upon searching the property, they found bloodstains and materials that Alexie had mentioned in the garage. They also found that as of Jan. 26, the garage had an open space where a window should have been, holes in the siding patched with pieces of wood, doors that did not fully close and no heating elements.

In her recorded testimony, Alexie expressed remorse, saying that her child died and that she tried to hide it.

“I’m a mother. I didn’t want my baby to die,” Alexie said. “I think I should be locked up. I don’t know for how long, I really don’t, but I know I should be locked up and go away for a while.”

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