Parents accused in starvation death of 2-year-old son, prosecutors say

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A Michigan couple is accused of fatally starving their 2-year-old son to death, prosecutors said.

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According to a news release from the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, Jonathon Matthew Cheek, 25, and Sierra Pearl Zaitona, 27, both of Clinton Township, were charged Monday with second-degree murder and child abuse in the second degree.

Investigators said the death certificate listed the child’s cause of death as starvation.

“For the record, the child was healthy in foster care, and once it got into the care of these two individuals, it met its demise,” Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Molly Zappitell said, according to the Macomb Daily.

It is unclear why the child had been in foster care, or when he was returned to his biological parents.

Prosecutors said the couple reported the boy’s death on March 16, adding that they found him in his crib, WJBK-TV reported.

A coroner determined that the boy had died from starvation, WDIV-TV reported.

“I’m so angry people could actually do that to a child,” Prosecutor Molly Zappitell said during the couple’s arraignment, according to the television station. “I think this baby needed someone to watch out for him, and nobody was looking out for his interests, and that needs to change.”

A probable cause hearing will be held on April 3, the news release stated. Bail for the couple was set at $1 million for each.

If convicted, Cheek and Zaitona could face life in prison, WJBK reported.

“I would like to thank the Clinton Township Police Department for their hard work during this investigation into the child’s death,” Macomb County Prosecutor Peter J. Lucido said in a statement.

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