Kent County mother denies starving baby to demise, testifies of husband’s alleged abuse in emotional trial
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Sometimes a Kent County mother would cry, face in her hands.
“Did you starve her? Did you kill her? “Said 30-year-old Tatiana Fusari’s lawyer to her.
“No,” said Fusari, full of emotion.
Fusari testified in her own trial on Tuesday, October 12th, as the jury is expected to begin deliberations on her murder trial on Thursday.
Their 10-month-old baby, Mary, died of malnutrition on August 2, 2018, a coroner said. The father, 30-year-old Seth Welch, was previously convicted of murder and is serving a life sentence.
Fusari testified for hours on Tuesday, spending most of the time answering questions from her attorney Damian Nunzio.
Related: Defense Claims “Appalling Domestic Violence and Torture” are behind the mother’s inaction in starving the baby
She described numerous cases of physical and emotional abuse by Welch that she said was afraid to do something without his permission, including the help of a doctor.
However, prosecutors say there has never been any evidence that Fusari had bruises or other injuries, although some of the physical abuse allegedly occurred just days before she was arrested and examined in prison.
Fusari described how Welch allegedly hit her with a jack just a day or two before Mary’s death because he was upset about her changing a tire. However, the prison staff did not find any visible bruises, prosecutors said.
Fusari described in great detail the alleged abuse by Welch, who she said was a prophet.
In one case, Welch exorcized her and slapped her on the back as she kneeled in the kitchen of her home in Cedar Springs. He read Bible verses and said something like, “Demon be gone,” she testified.
“It hurt,” said Fusari, describing how he hit her on the chest as well. She was pregnant with another child at the time and eventually vomited into a toilet.
In another case, she said Welch forced her to play a “trust game” in which he got her to put her hand on a piece of wood and thrust a knife next to her hand. He stabbed her, causing her hand to bleed.
Fusari described numerous cases of rape and beatings by Welch. She said Welch “got very angry and slapped my face” when she asked if she should take Mary to a doctor because of her light weight.
Relatives: Mother of a starved baby to testify that her husband’s abuse prevented her from caring for her, attorney says
Fusari testified that Welch was anti-government, that he hoped to set up his own militia and that he did not like doctors. She described how he forced her to practice camouflage in her driveway for a possible “martial law” in the future.
Fusari, who has three other children with Welch, said she could take better care of Mary in the first few months after she was born because she worked fewer hours than at McDonald’s. She later began working an eight-hour shift that usually ended at 11 p.m.
She said Welch had become more controlled in 2018 and would eventually not allow her to go to Mary’s room at night. She was forced to look through a peephole that had formed in the door to the baby’s bedroom after Welch allegedly threw a hammer at Fusari, but missed.
Despite Welch’s behavior that made her fear for her life, Fusari said she nursed Mary daily and gave her husband pureed fruits and vegetables to feed her until she died.
Kent County’s assistant prosecutor Kim Richardson said Fusari’s testimony contradicts the coroner’s findings, which showed the baby had not eaten any solid food in days.
“I know I fed and tended them,” said Fusari.
Relatives: “This is torture:” Seth Welch’s baby suffered a cruel starvation, says the prosecutor
Richardson also said the coroner ruled the baby was too weak to lift its head in the days leading up to death, despite statements from Fusari to the contrary.
And while Fusari said she had not had consensual sexual relations with her husband since the birth of her son, who was 2 years old in 2018, prosecutors said there were several sexually descriptive text messages between FusarI and Welch in July 2018 referring to it indicated that they were in a pleasant relationship.
Fusari testified that she still did not know why her daughter had died and wondered if she had gotten sick or had a virus, separate from malnutrition.
She admitted that she knew her daughter was losing weight and that she put her newborn clothes back on after the baby was three to six months old.
Earlier testimony indicated that Mary was born 6 pounds, 12 ounces and weighed only 8 pounds when she died.
The lawyers are expected to deliver closing arguments on Thursday.
More from MLive
House where a teenager forcibly murdered his mother and sisters has a chilling Halloween display
3 children injured in an accident with 4 vehicles in Jenison
Medical experts are reversing the course of aspirin, saying it should be slowed down by older adults