By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – The father accused of drowning his two infant children will go to trial in February.
In Wayne County Circuit Court Friday, Judge Vera Massey Jones set a trial for Feb. 21, 2011 and a final conference date for Jan. 14 for resident Steven Nicholson, 27.
Nicholson pleaded innocent to two counts of first-degree murder, a felony punishable by life in prison; two counts of felony murder, a felony punishable by life without parole in prison; and two counts of first-degree child abuse, a felony punishable by 15 years in prison in the deaths of 15-month-old Ella Stafford and 13-month-old Johnathan “Cash” Sanderlin.
Police arrived shortly after 2 a.m. on Oct 19 after Nicholson called 911 to report his two children had drowned in the bathtub. He told police the children had gotten out of their cribs and turned the water on themselves.
The medical examiner’s lab determined the children died of drowning and the scalding water burned off their skin.
Ella’s mother, Tayler Stafford, 19, shared custody of her daughter with Nicholson and Johnathan’s mother, Sarah McGee, gave full custody of her son to Nicholson before moving to Cadillac.
Nicholson recently had been laid off from his job as a bricklayer. Residents of the Valley Spring Apartments where he lived said they had seen him verbally abuse the children in the past.