District Court, Kandiyohi County
Michele Suzette Belton, 36, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Monday to a felony charge of malicious punishment of a child.
As part of a plea agreement, she will receive a stay of imposition on her sentence. If she complies with the court's conditions, the charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor on her record.
The charge was filed after a Willmar police detective received a report from Kandiyohi County Family Services on April 15 indicating that Belton had squeezed her 2-year-old son's arm hard enough to cause severe bruising. Later that same day, the detective and a social worker met with Belton, who said she got angry, grabbed the boy by the upper arm and said she was "rough" with him. She admitted to previously harming the boy and said "I'm not proud of this, I know what I've done is wrong." She said she had been through anger management classes and was grateful the incident was reported because she knew it was in the best interest of her children. She confirmed that the bruise was in the form of a handprint.
Further investigation by police indicated that the biological father of the boy and a 3-year-old child had received an order for protection on behalf of the children against Belton. The order noted several incidents over the past 16 months including bruises on the boy after a visit with Belton, that she bathed the child in ice cold water and then put him in scalding hot water, slapping the other child so hard that Belton fell down and that Belton stabbed the boy with a fake fingernail and hit him.
Continued investigation revealed that Belton had left a voice mail for a social worker admitting to grabbing the son so hard it left marks on his arm and indicating she was willing to do whatever she needed to do to get help.
She will be sentenced Oct. 30