By Jean Matheson

Correspondent

Melody Butt, the East Troy mother whose infant twins drowned in a bathtub as she napped in her bedroom, will spend one year in jail and 14 years on probation.

While serving her jail sentence, Butt, 27, will be granted release time to care for her three remaining children and for outside work.

Before sentencing Butt on July 31, Walworth County Circuit Judge David Reddy heard arguments both that she should be sent to prison or that the jail and probation sentence was the proper decision.

District Attorney Phillip Koss urged a prison sentence, saying the deaths of the two 11-month-olds was entirely Butt’s fault.

“These were clearly unnecessary deaths that were preventable,” Koss said. “Punishment is part of the system. Two living, breathing children would have been running around playing now had it not been for her actions.”

Butt wiped back tears before addressing Reddy. “I’ll never see them grow up,” she said of the twins. “The only time the pain subsides is when I’m with my daughters. I love them so much and they need me.”

Butt’s three young daughters have been cared for by her parents, Dawn and Victor Busalacchi, since her arrest.

Both of the Busalacchis wept as they praised their daughter as a good mother.

“There was a horrible, tragic accident, but we have three little girls now who need their mom. Melody is a good person,” said Dawn Busalacchi.

Koss said Butt had a history of irresponsible actions. Her apartment on Church Street had been “filthy for a long time,” he said, with soiled diapers, food and bottles of curdled milk on the floor. A social worker who inspected the premises said after the death of the twins that she would have recommended the other three children be removed from the apartment, Koss said.

Butt’s defense attorney, Joshua Klaff, however, said his client had been stressed and sleep-deprived when she fell asleep before the drowning. She had been working a third-shift job as a certified nursing assistant in addition to caring for her young children, he said.

Klaff noted that two pre-sentence reports, one by the state Department of Corrections and one by the county Health and Human Services Department, both agreed with him that a sentence of probation and jail would be the appropriate one for Butt.

The 11-month-old twins, a boy and a girl, were found floating in the bathtub in Butt’s apartment on Sept. 22 as she slept in her bedroom.

A friend who also lived in the apartment discovered the twins when he returned home, pulled them from the water and called East Troy police. One of the officers reported Butt told him she had put one of the twins in the tub, turned on the water and then fell asleep. Butt speculated that the 2-year-old daughter may have put the second twin in the bathtub, the officer said.

As part of a plea agreement, Butt on June 14 pleaded guilty to a felony charge of child neglect resulting in a death and a misdemeanor count of child neglect. She faced a maximum prison sentence of 25 years and nine months in prison. She had originally been charged with two counts of felony child neglect resulting in death and two counts of misdemeanor child neglect.

Reddy cautioned Butt that any violations of the terms of her 14 years on probation would result in sending her to prison for five years. Those terms include no unsupervised contact with minors, including her own children, without her probation agent’s permission and no alcohol or illegal drugs.

 

 
 

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