By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — A 23-year-old Taylor man and would-be paramedic could face life in prison if convicted of first-degree child abuse or torture charges filed against him last week after he allegedly beat his infant son.
Nicholas Alan Spirdione was arraigned Tuesday before 23rd District Court Judge Geno Salomone on four felony counts: torture and two counts of first-degree child abuse — both charges are punishable by up to life in prison, according to Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller — and assault with intent to do great bodily harm, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Spirdione was also charged with domestic violence, a misdemeanor.
Police responded to a 911 call shortly before 5 p.m. April 26, from the 6600 block of Pine Street. Police Chief Mary Sclabassi said responders found a six-month-old boy who was struggling to breath and falling in and out of consciousness.
Both parents were home at the time. The child’s mother — Corie Stahl — is hearing impaired and reportedly did not hear the child screaming. Court officials provided her with headphones during Tuesday’s arraignment so she could hear the proceedings.
The child received emergency surgery at Detroit Children’s Hospital for injuries to the head and to relieve swelling to the brain. Initially the baby had only been given a 20 percent chance of survival; by Wednesday doctors reportedly said the child was responding well to treatment, and remained hospitalized in critical condition.
During Tuesday’s video arraignment, Salomone entered a “not guilty” plea on behalf of Spirdione, who had not yet retained an attorney and will be represented by appointed counsel at a preliminary exam of the evidence against him scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday.
“I am broken, your honor, completely destroyed inside,” Spirdione said. “I did not mean to harm my son, and I beg his mother and the doctors for forgiveness. I need help, I didn’t mean it.”
Salomone set a $1.5 million cash bond, based on factors including prior history and that Spirdione had shown no remorse when arrested by police. Police and prosecutors had asked for Spirdione to remain in custody.
Sclabassi declined to comment on whether Spirdione has a prior criminal
record. Michigan’s Offender Tracking Information System shows no previous convictions.
Spirdione told Salomone that he had only recently begun working a job, reportedly as an Emergency Medical Technician awaiting final certification.
“This is not who I am. I just want to help people,” Spirdione said.
Should Spirdione make bond Salomone ordered that he have no further contact with the child, the child’s mother or at the Pine Street address.
Spirdione’s girlfriend — the child’s mother — was in the courtroom during the video arraignment, and wept during the proceedings. Spirdione asked the court if she was there — “That sounds like her crying,” he said — and told her he was sorry.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)