Kent County District Judge Sara Smolenski said Wednesday that the case was "as horrific as it gets."
Tatiana Fusari, 27, and her husband, Seth Welch, also 27, are facing first-degree child abuse and felony murder charges in the early August death of their 10-month-old daughter, Mary Anne.
According to his Facebook page, Welch graduated from Grand Haven High School in 2009.
Prior to court testimony on Wednesday, only fragmented details had been revealed on what led to the infant's death. According to a probable cause affidavit, 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."
Religion was seldom brought up in Wednesday's preliminary exam. Instead, the prosecution's case was largely built upon a chilling 911 call.
"I guess I don't know if this is the right place to report this to ... I'm at home and one of my children is dead," Seth Welch said in a recorded 911 call played in court. The parents broke into sobs and shook their heads as the recording was played.
"We put her down yesterday and went into the room to get her this morning and she's dead," Welch told a dispatcher.
The dispatcher asked how long the baby had been dead after hearing Fusari say she earlier attempted CPR. Welch explained that they found their daughter dead at around 10 a.m., but waited to call police until after they had talked to their lawyer.
"So, you found the child an hour and a half ago, and you called your lawyer first?" the dispatcher asked.
"Yes," Welch replied.
At one point in the call, Welch said his daughter was “as dead as a doornail.” Smolenski referred to the remark before ordering the couple's case be sent to Kent County Circuit Court. Smolenski said Welch's callousness — coupled with other evidence — had her fully convinced the case should advance to the higher court.