Mom accused of trying to kill girl waives hearing

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BEULAH, Mich. (AP) - A northern Lower Michigan woman charged with attempted murder in the carbon monoxide poisoning of her autistic 14-year-old daughter waived her right Thursday to a probable cause hearing.

Authorities say they found Kelli Stapleton and her daughter Isabelle unconscious Sept. 3 in the family's van in Benzie County's Blaine Township in an apparent murder-suicide attempt.

Kelli Stapleton's blog had chronicled the challenges her family faced caring for Isabelle, who has severe autism and sometimes had violent outbursts.

Stapleton was scheduled for a preliminary examination Thursday, but the 45-year-old waived the hearing during a brief appearance before District Judge John Mead in Beulah.

A trial date wasn't immediately set, the Traverse City Record-Eagle ( reported.

Stapleton's lawyer, Brian Johnson, declined to comment on the decision to waive the probable cause hearing.

The family is well-known in their small community of Elberta, which is near Lake Michigan and about 150 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

In her blog, Stapleton wrote that her daughter, nicknamed Issy, had completed an intense program for severely autistic children near Kalamazoo, but her education plan had been abruptly changed by school officials.

"I have to admit that I'm suffering from a severe case of battle fatigue," Stapleton wrote on her blog, The Status Woe, shortly before the incident.

According to state police, coals had been burned in the van and the windows were rolled up.

Two holes were burned in the van's carpeting, Lt. Kip Belcher said at the time.

"The officers could tell immediately that the mother had been successful in generating the carbon monoxide," Belcher said.

Earlier this year, Stapleton told the newspaper that she and her husband were both hopeful and frustrated about their daughter's prospects.

"She is a great kid with a lot of potential," Stapleton said. "She's so smart. She started reading when she was 2. She's got so much to offer, but her aggression is going to limit her life as much as anything."


Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle,

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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