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GHHS grad faces child abuse, murder charges

By Emma Nicolas/WZZM-TV • Aug 8, 2018 at 6:51 PM

GRAND RAPIDS — Seth Welch's jaw dropped when a Kent County judge informed him Monday that the charges of first-degree child abuse and murder could result in a sentence of up to life in prison.

According to his Facebook page, Welch graduated from Grand Haven High School in 2009.

Welch called police Aug. 2 to say he had found his 10-month-old daughter dead in her crib at the family's home near Cedar Springs, according to court records. The responding officer noted in his police report that Mary Anne Welch's cheeks and eyes were "sunken into her head."

Welch, 27, and his wife — Tatiana Fusari, 27, who is also Mary's mother — were brought in for questioning, where they admitted to noticing their daughter's skinny appearance as early as a month earlier. Fusari told police they failed to seek medical care for their daughter "for fear of having Child Protective Services called, lack of faith and trust in medical services, and religious reasons."

An autopsy indicated the girl died from malnutrition and dehydration.

Both parents were then taken into custody and remain in the Kent County Jail, which is where they were arraigned from Monday afternoon. Kent County District Judge Sara Smolenski arraigned the couple together, but she clarified the remainder of their cases would be handled separately.

Fusari appeared to be holding onto her husband's arm throughout the hearing, breaking into sobs as the charges were read.

Smolenski denied Fusari's request for a personal release bond in order to continue working at a McDonald's restaurant in Cedar Springs.

Welch said his full-time job was running their farm.

Welch and Fusari have two other children together, ages 2 and 4. Both children are currently with Welch's parents. Welch told the judge he also has an 8-year-old child.

Smolenski ordered the couple to have no contact with their children.

As Monday’s hearing wrapped up, Smolenski asked if Welch had any questions, to which he replied, "There's a lot I could say," before the judge cut him off advising him to talk to an attorney.

Welch has an active Facebook page, where he frequently expressed personal views and, most recently, posted about his daughter's death.

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