Image: Lorrie Mae Thomas
Carlos Osorio  /  AP
Lorrie Mae Thomas, the adoptive mother of a 9-year-old quadriplegic girl whose body was found in a Michigan storage unit, listens during a court hearing in Flint, Mich., in April. A judge ordered Thomas to stand trial in the case.
updated 10/13/2009 3:51:30 PM ET 2009-10-13T19:51:30

A woman accused of starving her adopted quadriplegic daughter and stashing the 9-year-old's body in a storage unit must stand trial on charges including murder, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Lorrie Thomas, 40, of Flint, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in circuit court on six charges including second-degree murder and welfare fraud after Judge Tracy Collier-Nix of 68th District Court ruled there was enough evidence to send her to trial.

Authorities believe Shylae Thomas was dead for six weeks when her body was discovered inside a 33-gallon container in a storage unit near Flint on April 22. The doctor who performed an autopsy on the 33-pound girl said the cause of death was a combination of neglect, malnourishment and dehydration.

"You don't even really need an autopsy or an expert to tell you that this 9-year-girl at 33 pounds was starved to death," Assistant Prosecutor Marcie Mabry said after the hearing.

The judge's ruling came at the end of a three-day preliminary hearing that began June 3 and continued Oct. 1. On Tuesday, Collier-Nix allowed Thomas' statement to police to be used despite objections from her lawyer that she did not fully waive her right against self-incrimination.

Prosecutors also played a recording of a phone conversation with Thomas, who was Shylae's aunt, from jail just days after her arrest in which she uses an expletive to describe police and said she had planned to retrieve Shylae's body from the storage unit and bury it.

"I did not murder her," Thomas said in the April 25 call.

After the hearing, defense lawyer Mark Clement said Thomas found Shylae dead at home and panicked — fearing that her own children would be taken from her if she reported the death. He said Thomas denies that she starved the girl and says she was feeding her.

Thomas adopted Shylae in 2003. The girl was fed through a tube in her stomach, the result of nearly suffocating in a crib as a baby.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments