By Chris Bennett

Correspondent

A perceived lenient sentence for an East Troy mother whose two infant children died in her care is drawing the ire of local legislators.

Melody Butt’s 11-month-old twins, a boy and a girl, were found floating in the bathtub in Butt’s apartment Sept. 22 of last year while Butt slept in her bedroom.

On July 31 Walworth County Circuit Court Judge David Reddy sentenced Butt to one year in jail with work release and child visitation privileges and 14 years on probation. Butt has three remaining children.

“It’s just unfathomable,” State Senator Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) said. Kedzie represents East Troy and Elkhorn in the 11th Senate District. “It’s about as bad as it gets. It’s not just one child, but two, and they’re twins.”

Last week’s Kedzie’s office coordinated and sent a letter to Secretary Gary Hamblin, Wisconsin Department of Corrections, and Secretary Eloise Anderson, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.

“Working with the other offices we took the lead to organize and collect the info from the various offices and organize a response,” Kedzie said. “As you can imagine, the response was swift from the public.”

Assembly members Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva), Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater), Amy Loundenbeck (R-Clinton), David Craig (R-Big Bend), Evan Wynn (R-Whitewater) and State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) endorsed the letter with Kedzie.

August represents the 32nd Assembly District and Nass the 31st. Loundenbeck represents the 45th Assembly District and Craig the 83rd. Wynn represents the 43rd Assembly District and Lazich represents the 28th Senate District.

All of the afore-mentioned cover some portion of Walworth County or will once redistricting of legislative boundaries takes effect.

“This is a Walworth County issue, and all these legislators have taken a great interest in this,” Kedzie said.

In his letter Kedzie expressed concern over Butt’s lenient sentence and also questioned why Butt will still be allowed contact with her remaining children.

A portion of Kedzie’s letter reads as follows:

“In our position as state elected officials, we are calling on your respective offices to utilize your available and allowable jurisdiction and resources to review this matter and hopefully provide us information as to how and why the system failed these innocent children.

“Furthermore, we are inquiring as to what, if any, action or involvement your departments may have in the care and welfare of the surviving children who will find themselves in the care of the very person who neglected their siblings. Obviously, we are immensely concerned for their safety and trust you and your agencies share that concern. We would also inquire of any legislative remedy your agencies may suggest regarding such situations.”

“This is providing checks and balances with the various agencies,” Kedzie said. “It’s good for everyone to know the Legislature is looking over their shoulder.”

Butt was originally charged with two counts of felony child neglect resulting in death and two counts of misdemeanor child neglect.

She pleaded guilty June 14 to a felony charge of child neglect resulting in death and one misdemeanor count of child neglect. Butt faced a maximum prison sentence of 25 years and nine months, in addition to significant fines.

Walworth County District Attorney Phil Koss noted Butt’s apartment on Church Street in East Troy was soiled, filled with dirty diapers, food and bottles of curdled milk on the floor.

Koss said a social worker who inspected the premises following the twins’ death said she would have recommended the remaining three children be removed from the apartment.

Kedzie said it’s too late to help the deceased twins, and said the primary focus is to help the remaining children and ensure such a tragedy never again occurs.

“We can’t change the sentence, but we can look at ways of potentially preventing a repeat of this through legislative action,” Kedzie said. “I think we can also help provide some legislative guidelines as to what happens with the children that are still living in the home.”

 

 
 

1 Comment

  1. Joyce says:

    Wow to say “perceived lenient sentence” is a harsh thing to say when she admitted that she put Treyton in the bath with running water, fell asleep, and then “somehow” Taliyah also ended up in there as well. Two babies died; and for her to only recieve 1 yr work release based on her actions after the fact is a slap in the face to our justice system. I bet if you ask any prisoner if they were given the chance to be judged based on there action after their crimes the major would say of course I would have changed my ways. Our system is design to try defendants based on the crimes they commit not their actions after the crime. Melody was not sentenced for what she did but for her action after the fact and that is a crime in itself. The twins deserved better from the Judge, CPS, and the correctional facility. Not only did this sentence not provide justice for the twin but it also left her remaining children in the hands of a careless, selfish, irresponsible person. To say she is no longer a threat to society after the death of two babies is an insult to all who believe in a fair and just justice system.

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