Father faces abuse charge; friend a suspect in daughter's death
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 21, 2005 02:07 PM
The father of a 3-year-old girl who deputies said was beaten to death by his best friend in February has been indicted on charges of failing to protect his daughter.
Deputies arrested Michael Edward Plummer, 29, Tuesday after he was indicted last week by a Maricopa County grand jury on a single count of child abuse. He is being held on a $250,000 bond at the county's Towers Jail.
Plummer was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of his arrest and has a history of domestic violence and violence against children, court documents show.
"He was responsible to protect his child and he didn't do that," Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Paul Chagolla said.
The death of Angelene Plummer, a chubby-cheeked, curly haired girl, deeply affected emergency workers and investigators on the case, who raised money and donated items to spare her a pauper's burial.
Christopher Jason Langin, 31, a close friend of Michael Plummer, faces first-degree murder, child abuse and aggravated assault charges in the girl's death Feb. 8.
Authorities said Langin beat, strangled, stabbed and burned the developmentally disabled girl while taking care of her at the Plummer's home in a county island in east Mesa.
According to court records, Plummer said he needed a break from the girl and asked Langin to take care of her about 8 p.m. Feb. 7. Early the next morning, Plummer said he went outside for a cigarette and saw his daughter sleeping on the bed inside a trailer next to the house, where Langin lived. Plummer and Langin stayed up drinking and watching television in the trailer until about 3 a.m., when Plummer went to the house to sleep, leaving Angelene alone with Langin.
Michael Plummer said he checked on Langin and Angelene throughout the day and assumed they were sleeping. Around 10:15 p.m., Plummer was taking out the trash when Langin told him he needed to come inside the trailer, according to records. He told Plummer that he had shoved Angelene after she got caught in the wires of his Ninendo game while playing. Langin told investigators he doesn't remember causing the injuries.
Plummer found his daughter lying "motionless," dressed only in a diaper. He told investigators his daughter looked like she had been struck by a car, with bruises on her legs, face and stomach.
He carried Angelene into the home and family members called 911.
"Michael did not ask about the condition of Anglene, and the only thing he expressed concern for was his Play Station game set and wanting to retrieve it," a sheriff's detective later wrote in court documents. Angelene was pronounced dead at a hospital.
During the 20 hours Langin cared for Angelene, Michael Plummer prepared meals for his other two children but never checked to see if Angelene was fed, court records show.
The conditions of the trailer where Angelene was found were "deplorable," with containers of urine, human feces and trash thrown around, court records show.
A state Child Protective Services report released Wednesday said the agency had several contacts with Angelene's family, mostly involving her brother and sister, but the allegations were unsubstantiated. One of the abuse cases involved Angelene in January 2002, the month she was born, because she tested positive for marijuana.
CPS reviewed the involvement with the family and determined it had no legal grounds to remove the children from the home. The report noted Plummer repeatedly refused offers for family assistance services.
Angelene's brother and sister were taken into CPS custody after her death and remain there.
Plummer is expected in court Wednesday.
Then there's a part of me that is upset at the senselessness of the crime. And how nobody could protect Angelene (but Child Protective Services thought her father was doing a swell job). Would this have happened if she wasn't disabled?