By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — Nine months after being taken into custody for having beaten his infant child to death, a 23-year-old man pleaded guilty to murder charges and awaits sentencing.
Luis Marcos Smolen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Sept. 5, before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny.
According to court records, Smolen had been scheduled for an October trial on three counts, including felony murder and first-degree child abuse, but instead will be sentenced on Tuesday. Second-degree homicide is punishable by up to life in prison.
Smolen had acknowledged to arresting officers that he had struck six-week-old Payton on Dec. 1, Police Chief Mary Sclabassi said. Investigators responded to calls from the 15000 block of Park Village reporting an infant who was not breathing and found a child that appeared to have been beaten.
Payton was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced dead that afternoon.
Smolen had previously acknowledged having slapped the baby with an open hand, and has been in custody since being arraigned last year.
Both district and circuit court proceedings included competency evaluations which, in August, determined Smolen was able to understand the charges and participate in his own defense. Police had testified during preliminary hearings that Smolen said he’d “killed my daughter,” and that he’d lost his temper after she’d been crying.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)