Charlisa Wood was accused of severely injuring her then-boyfriend’s 4-year-old son by burning and beating him, causing him life-threatening injuries.In December of 2015, the court found her guilty of child abuse, torture, and assault with intent to do great bodily harm, and she was sentenced to spend decades behind bars. But a few months ago Wood filed an appeal, claiming that the prosecution had mishandled her case. But the Michigan Court of Appeals doesn’t agree.
It all began when police were called to Wood’s home in July of 2015 for a possible drowning. Wood had been caring for her boyfriend’s son, and claimed that the boy had almost drowned in the bath. The boy was airlifted to the hospital, where doctors discovered the extend of his injuries.
According to medical professionals who provided testimony at Wood’s trial, the boy had a 5 cm (1.96″) laceration on his liver, immersion burns, injuries to his spleen and pancreas, and bruises and abrasion on his head, abdomen, arms and feet. The jury found Wood guilty on all counts, and the Judge sentenced Charlisa Wood to 19 to 50 years for first-degree child abuse, 19 to 50 years for torture, and two years, 10 months to 10 years for assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.
Wood later appealed the conviction, arguing that the court didn’t have enough evidence to support their claims. The appeal stated that the burns Wood is said to have given the boy by immersing his arms in hot water are not possible. She claims that the water in the house is not hot enough to result in burns of that severity, and so she cannot be blamed for the boy’s burn injuries.
But the Court of Appeals disagrees with this assessment. “…because the jury could find that defendant had indeed held or constrained (the boy’s) arms under the hot water for a long duration, defendant’s position that the water temperature somehow established that she could not be guilty, is misguided.” it states in the ruling.
Another argument raised in the appeal was that Wood alleges that the prosecution made inflammatory statements during their closing arguments that had an undue effect on the jury. Comments about the defendant’s home being ‘the most dangerous place in the world’ for the boy and that the case was about ‘violence and torture and agony’ were said to be unnecessary.
But according to the Court of Appeals, “a review of the record demonstrates that these remarks were proper. As an initial matter, it should be noted that the prosecution’s arguments are not evidence. Bahoda, 448 Mich at 281. Therefore, defendant’s claim that the prosecutor’s remarks somehow violated MRE 401 and MRE 403 is meritless. Furthermore, the prosecutor’s statement that this was a case about violence, torture, and agony was accurate.”
As a result, Wood will continue to serve out the remainder of her sentence in prison without the opportunity for another trial.