Stoni Ann Blair: Girl, 13, found in freezer, on top of her brother; Mom convicted
Thirty-six-year-old Detroit mother Mitchelle Blair admittedly lived a hard life, bearing the scars of an abusive childhood that eventually took a toll on her children.
In a tragic family killing that shocked Michigan, Blair was sentenced in 2015 to life in prison after brutally killing, abusing and torturing her two children, 13-year-old Stoni Ann Blair and Stephen Gage Berry, 9.
In her court appearances in Wayne County, Blair showed no remorse in describing how the deadbeat fathers of her kids bore a brunt of the crime. She also defiantly described why she killed her two children: They were abusing her 8-year-old child, she said.
She was arrested in March 2015 after the bodies of two of her children were found in the freezer of her home. Stephen was stuffed there in 2012; Stoni's body was put there in 2013.
"As horrendous as everyone thinks I am, that's fine. But I'm the only one not lying about anything," Blair said on the stand, according to NBC News.
“Both had been slapped in the face,” forensic pathologist Dr. Carl Schmidt from the medical examiner’s office, testified, according to WXYZ-TV. “Both had chipped teeth and both had actual tears in the mucus membrane of the lip.”
He also said one of the kids had evidence of branding on the skin.
“The entire scalp was full of hemorrhages, meaning she has received numerous impacts over the head,” Schmidt testified, according to WXYZ.
One of the fathers said that Blair told him that the child was mad at him and so he hadn't spoken or seen the kid in five years, he testified.
“I didn't speak to him at all after prison because I was told he was mad at me for not being there,” Steven Berry said on the stand.
Stoni's father, Alex Berry, said that Blair kept him outside the home when he tried to see his two girls -- because he lost his job and didn't have money. He also fathered a 17-year-old girl with Blair, who lived at the home as well.
“That is why she kept me outside. Said you can’t come inside. Why can’t I come in? She didn’t tell me why,” Dorsey told 7 Action News.
"It's all my fault," he said in hushed tones, sobbing. "It's all my fault."
Berry and Blair's 17-year-old daughter witnessed the abuse of her siblings for years. She told investigators that Blair tortured her younger brother and sister for weeks, scalding one of them and putting a plastic bag over the head of another before they were killed.
At Blair's sentencing, Judge Dana Hathaway said that the mother "imposed the death penalty" on her own kids and lamented how the "greatest tragedy" in the case was the future she wantonly stole from her children.
"They lived in terrible fear of you, and I find that so sad in this case. After all is said and done, you imposed the death penalty on your own children," Hathaway said, according to NBC News.
Blair pleaded guilty to first-degree murder but was disruptive in the court when the prosecutor said that her 8-year-old was not abused. "That's a lie!" Blair said when the prosecutor said that there was no evidence of it. "How dare she say that," Blair said.
In court, Blair said that she "definitely meant to kill" Stoni, but a year earlier the death of Stephen was by mistake. "If I had killed Stephen intentionally I definitely would be proud to say I did, but I didn't," she said emotionless in court, according to Time. "I don't feel no emotion for the death of them demons."
The two dead children were missed for a couple years before they were found, according to media reports. But in the case of one of them, she could have been found sooner.
A school teacher of Stoni Ann's called a Detroit Public Schools agent over the girl's sudden absence from class. He was told that the agent requested a bench warrant for the mother, a move which could have saved the life of Stoni Ann. The teacher soon after retired though, and didn't follow up on whether the bench warrant was actually issued. Weeks later, though he recalled what a schools official told him when he took the initiative to follow up on Stoni's case.
"In the state of Michigan, (a lack of school) attendance is not neglect," former teacher Eric Fredlund told the Detroit Free Press.
“We didn’t just sit down and let this happen,” Alex Berry's mom Linda Dorsey told 7 Action News. “We’ve been fighting for these babies.”