KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend have been convicted in the death of her 4-year-old daughter, who was found wrapped in blankets and duct tape at their Kalamazoo home.
A jury convicted Matthew Longenecker on Wednesday of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse in the asphyxiation death of Desaray Thompson. A separate jury found Kelly Ballinger guilty of involuntary manslaughter and first-degree child abuse in her daughter’s July 9 death. Longenecker and Ballinger were also both convicted of possession of meth.
Authorities said the couple restrained Desaray with blankets and duct tape the night she died, including a blanket placed over her face.
A medical examiner said evidence revealed past abuse, such as bruising, cuts and likely a skull fracture.
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Much of the prosecution’s case was built on text messages between the couple that discussed wrapping and hitting Desaray. Longenecker in some exchanges called the child evil, a devil and a “wannabe serial killer.”
Longenecker also texted Ballinger three days before Desaray was found dead, saying: “The way I did it is genius. The more she struggles the tighter it gets. Lol.”
Ballinger wrote in a message, “I wish I never had her,” with Longenecker replying, “Me, too.”
Ballinger’s attorney, Eusebio Solis, said Longenecker was responsible for inflicting the injuries on the child that led to her death.
Ballinger’s sentencing is scheduled for April 30. She faces up to life in prison for the first-degree child abuse conviction, up to 15 years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter conviction and up to 10 years for meth possession.
Longenecker is scheduled to be sentenced May 7. He faces life in prison without parole.