Judge considers motions leading up to Stanton child abuse trial

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 10:07 am on Monday, February 27, 2012

Attorney Michelle Lyons, standing, argues a motion involving her client, Erik Kulkowski at left, as Michelle Kulkowski and her attorney, Lori Shearer, listen Thursday in 8th Judicial Circuit Court. Daily News/Kelli Ameling

STANTON — A husband and wife were in court Thursday regarding an upcoming trial to determine whether they are guilty of “hog-tying and beating” their 10-year-old son.

Erik Kulkoski, 35, and Michelle Kulkoski, 39, of Stanton, are each charged with first- and second-degree child abuse.

The first-degree charge carries a possible prison sentence of 15 years while the second-degree charge carries a possible prison sentence of four years.

According to court documents, the charges allege that the Kulkoskis “caused serious physical and mental harm by hog-tying and beating the child” numerous times between July and August 2011.

According to Montcalm County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Doug McFadden, the Kulkoskis allegedly regularly beat their son and once tied him up with duct tape before beating him. McFadden said there is evidence other people participated in beating the boy. The prosecutor called it “an act of sadism.”

The Kulkowskis are scheduled to go to trial March 20 and 21.

Erik Kulkowski’s attorney Michelle Lyons and Michelle Kulkowski’s attorney Lori Shearer both argued motions Thursday before Judge Suzanne  Hoseth Kreeger. One defense motion requested funding for expert witnesses to appear at trial on behalf of the Kulkowskis. The witnesses include Sean Burns of North Kent Guidance Services and two speciality doctors from the University of Michigan.

Kreeger granted the motion to fund the expert witnesses, but ordered Lyons and Shearer to inform her how much each  witness will charge for their time. Burns charges $200 per hour for being an expert witness. The doctors’ charges are not yet known.

Another defense motion requested that independent psychological evaluations be done on the 10-year-old alleged victim.

McFadden argued that Department of Human Services have already evaluated the child and that another evaluation might be harmful. Lyons and Shearer argued the parents had no input in the evaluation.

Kreeger compromised by allowing the parents to speak with the DHS evaluators and provide DHS with any relevant input the parents feel would affect the evaluation.

The Kulkoskis remain out of jail on a $5,000 bond each. They have two young sons in addition to the 10-year-old. All three boys were removed from the parents’ care on Aug. 18, 2011.

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