A Michigan couple reacted with visible shock — the dad’s mouth hanging open, the mom in tears — as they were arraigned Monday on charges of felony murder and first-degree child abuse in connection with the Thursday starvation death of their 10-month-old daughter.
Tatiana Fusari and Seth Welch, both 27, appeared via video in 63rd District Court as Kent County Judge Sara Smolenski detailed the allegations against them.
As Smolenski explained the charges, Welch first shook his head in apparent disbelief before his mouth dropped as he heard the possible sentence they face.
Both parents are being held without bail and, if convicted, could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Their daughter Mary Anne Welch was found dead last week inside a crib in the couple’s Solon Township home, according to authorities. She died from both malnutrition and dehydration, prosecutors confirm to PEOPLE.
Welch allegedly awoke that morning to find the girl lifeless. Investigators accuse Welch and Fusari of failing to seek medical treatment for Mary, insisting they had to have known she was unwell.
Welch allegedly has a distrust of medical professionals and cited religious reasons when pressed on why he did not take Mary in to be treated, according to a criminal affidavit obtained by PEOPLE.
“During interviews with both parents, admissions were made that they were aware of Mary Welch’s skinny appearance and low weight for at least one month prior to this date,” the affidavit reads.
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Investigators further contend in the affidavit that “Fusari admitted during the interview that they failed to reach out for medical help with their daughter for fear of having her children removed by Child Protective Services, lack of faith and trust in the medical services and religious reasons.”
The couple have two other children, who are now staying with Welch’s parents.
Welch previously documented his religious beliefs in videos posted to his Facebook page, where he also recently revealed Fusari is pregnant with their fourth child.
In one video, he said that doctors are “priesthoods of the medical cult.” He also spoke out against vaccines in a different clip: “The righteous shall live by faith. It’s God who is sovereign over disease and those sorts of things and, of course, ultimately deaths.”
Hours after Mary’s death, he wrote that his “heart is about shattered” and that “Tati and I are the worst parents ever.”
“Just numb inside right now,” the post continued. “And I’m really enjoying the loving embrace of an isolation cell from the cops and government employees who keep assuring me ‘they are only here to help.’ ”
Neither Fusari nor Welch has entered a plea.
PEOPLE was unable to determine Wednesday if they have retained attorneys who could comment on their behalf.
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