Woman charged with newborn’s death bound over to circuit court

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 20, 2015

 Angela Alexie sits in the 38th District Court during a recess Feb. 20. Alexie has been bound over to Macomb County Circuit Court on charges related to the death of a newborn found at a recycling center in December.

Angela Alexie sits in the 38th District Court during a recess Feb. 20. Alexie has been bound over to Macomb County Circuit Court on charges related to the death of a newborn found at a recycling center in December.

Photo by Kevin Bunch

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The Eastpointe woman who allegedly left her newborn in a garage and found the child dead a few days after the child’s birth in December has been bound over to Macomb County Circuit Court following an examination Feb. 20 at the 38th District Court.

Angela Alexie, 24, is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse in the death of an infant discovered at the ReCommunity Recycling Center in Roseville Jan. 14, and she will have a pre-arraignment hearing at the circuit court March 2.

Cyndee Johnson, who was sorting at the recycling center when the baby was discovered, said she was working on a section of the line with five other people when she saw the infant, in a fetal position, coming down the conveyor belt.

“When I first saw the child, it scared me,” Johnson said. “I jumped back — moved back — and then realized that this was an actual baby.”

She said that after her initial shock wore off, she yelled for the line to stop because there was a baby on it. She wrapped the baby in a blanket that was kept on hand in case any workers got cold, and after summoning her supervisor to explain what had happened, the Roseville police were called.

Roseville Detective Brad McKenzie said during his testimony that police spoke to witnesses and toured the facility, finding a couple items that came down the line with the infant, which they hoped could help determine where he came from. Eventually, McKenzie said, he received a tip from Amy Lesniak, the legal custodian of Alexie’s oldest two children.

Lesniak, whose brother is the father of those two kids, said Child Protective Services had placed them in her care after Alexie was found by a court to be a negligent parent, with Alexie visiting them once a week and getting parenting training. Lesniak said some time ago when Alexie was pregnant with her third child, she stopped attending those visitation sessions, claiming to have the flu for months while complaining about regular pregnancy pains.

After that third child was born — and eventually taken by CPS — the visitations returned as scheduled, but Lesniak said that earlier in 2014 Alexie started making similar complaints and stopped showing up regularly, coming by once every month or so, and wearing baggier or layered clothing. She also said Alexie was changing her Facebook habits, ceasing posts of her in revealing clothing and sticking with only headshots until January, after the baby allegedly was born.

As a result, after hearing about the infant found in the recycling center, Lesniak said she immediately suspected Alexie and called in a tip to the police after their initial suspect fell through on Jan. 23.

McKenzie said he spoke to Alexie by phone about coming in and talking about the incident, but she said she needed to move things around on her schedule first. Suspicious, McKenzie said he and another officer performed surveillance of her neighborhood, and after seeing her walking down the street with a roommate, asked her if she could come along to the police station.

He said that Alexie allegedly said, initially, that she was homeless and had given birth in Kennedy Park, and that the child died after three days while they were out in the cold, but after pressing her, she admitted to living with two roommates in a house on Gascony.

McKenzie said she allegedly did not want her roommates to find out she was pregnant, and did not know who the father was, so she concealed her pregnancy for months before going out at 6:30 a.m. Dec. 22 to give birth in the garage.

The baby was then allegedly wrapped in a towel and placed on a couch cushion in the middle of the garage, but there were no heating elements there, and McKenzie said that when they inspected the garage, there was an open window frame with no glass there. The infant also reportedly would not latch on whenever she tried to feed it, he said.

“She said she went out every two or three hours (to try and feed the baby), and at night she’d go in the house and go to sleep,” McKenzie said. “She indicated she never brought the child inside, and it remained in the garage the entire time.”

When she went out at 11 p.m. Dec. 24, she allegedly found the infant dead, McKenzie said. Alexie then allegedly planned to bury it in her parents’ backyard in January, and after a week put it in a plastic bag near the garbage and recycling cans; about a week after that, McKenzie said, she noticed the bag was gone.

McKenzie added that allegedly Alexie intended to take the child to the Fire Department as part of the Michigan Safe Haven law, but she did not feel strong enough to make the trip.

Macomb County Coroner Dr. Daniel Spitz said his department was still awaiting autopsy tests, but at this time he believes hypothermia played a role in the child’s death. There were no indications of any physical trauma, he said.

Alexie’s defense attorney, Steven Kaplan, argued for lesser charges of second-degree child abuse and involuntary manslaughter, and he said that Alexie — while still negligent — had never intended for the baby to die. He said the higher crimes require a subjective intent to kill or commit great bodily harm.

“What she said is she wrapped the child, she tried to feed it every two hours, but no latching occurred,” Kaplan said. “That kind of conduct is abhorrent, but does it constitute first-degree child abuse, a specific-intent crime? No.”

Prosecutor Bill Cataldo did not accept this reading of the law.

“Let’s be clear,” Cataldo said. “There was no comfort offered, no food, no clothing, no water, no warmth, no protection against the elements; this child had no chance of living based on the position she put that child in.”

Judge Carl Gerds ruled in favor of Cataldo and the first-degree child abuse and second-degree murder charges.

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