(Mt. Clemens, MI) A Macomb County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney said the little girl’s step-mother beat her to death, inflicting five blows to her head by slamming her on the floor of their mobile home; the step-mother denied it and said she fell in the shower while cleaning the girl after dirtying her diaper.
Monday, a jury of twelve citizens said simply, “Guilty.”
Guilty of child abuse, sexual abuse, and felony murder in the death of Lily Wolfenbarger-Furneaux, age 2. The jury’s verdict means that Lily’s step-mom, 30-year-old Renee King of New Haven, MI, will spend the rest of her natural life in prison without the possibility of parole for her conduct stemming from the child’s death on November 20, 2010.
In the second-floor courtroom of Judge Diane Druzinksi on Monday, family members and attorneys expressed both dismay and satisfaction with the verdict, which was swiftly reached after only 2 hours of deliberations by the group of jurors.
The defendant, Renee King, covered her face with her hands and was shaking as the verdict was announced.
Sharon Oslund of Lapeer and Rick Furneaux of Leonard, Lily’s great aunt and uncle, choked back tears as they talked minutes after the verdict. “We’re thankful, very thankful,” Oslund said. “This was a long time coming but worth it.”
The child’s biological mother, Lauren Furneaux, 26, was in the courtroom. She said she feared the worst but was naturally pleased. “I’m ecstatic,” she said. “It doesn’t bring Lily back, but the fact that she won’t be able to hurt any more children and she will think about what she did to my daughter the rest of her life, that’s all I could ask for.”
Lily died Nov. 20, 2010, after she was alone with King for about three hours in a mobile home in Meadowcreek Mobile Home Community near 27 Mile and Gratiot. Prosecutors say Lily suffered about five major blows to her head and another 15 or more other bruises to the head area; she also suffered a vaginal tear caused by a penetrating object.
King told police she accidentally dropped Lily in two falls in her bathroom due to a bad back; she complained of falling down in the weeks prior to the incident and earlier that year was diagnosed with a bulging disc. She could not explain the vaginal injury.
But assistant Macomb prosecutor Therese Tobin said King, affected by prescription drugs, slammed Lily’s head against the floor in a rage over Lily defecating in her underwear and having temper tantrums.
“That’s what set off this time bomb off,” Tobin told jurors in closing arguments Monday morning. “You don’t get upset with a child for accidents.”
King, who was married to Jeff Wolfenbarger, Lily’s father, was watching Lily when the girl was murdered after Wolfenbarger had been awarded parenting time of the girl pursuant to a court custody order.
King’s sentencing date is scheduled for late March.