Trial begins for father accused in dehydration death of infant

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Jury selection is underway for the father accused of murder in the dehydration death of his 10-month old daughter.

Mary Welch was discovered in her crib in her home northwest of Cedar Springs on Aug. 2, 2018.  

It would be ruled she died of dehydration, weighing 8 pounds — about what a newborn should weigh — as she lied on a filthy mattress covered with mold in a home filled with garbage and flies, according to investigators.  

The baby’s father, 28-year-old Seth Welch, allegedly waited 90 minutes after his wife discovered the deceased child to call 911 telling a dispatcher that the child was “dead as a doorknob.”  

Welch and the baby’s mother, 29-year-old Tatiana Fusari, are charged with felony murder and child abuse, facing mandatory life in prison if convicted.  

Welch told News 8 days after his arrest that the charges against him were prosecution for his strong faith in Jesus Christ.  

Both defendants have undergone psychiatric exams and have been found competent to stand trial.   

Nonetheless, Welch’s attorney, Charlie Clapp, notified the court that they intend to pursue an insanity defense for the father.  

Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Kim Richardson plans to introduce evidence of prior abuse by the father to establish a pattern on behavior that led to the infant’s death.

Fusari sought an independent review of her medical records to determine if she was suffering from a parvovirus which can cause dehydration and whether that disease was passed on to the infant.   

The mother is expected to go to trial Feb. 3, but that trial may be delayed. 

Welch’s trial will continue Wednesday with open statements and witnesses and is expected to last into next week.