Portage Woman Sentenced 22 Months to 15 Years for Manslaughter of Toddler Daughter

Portage Woman Sentenced 22 Months to 15 Years for Manslaughter of Toddler DaughterSource: Joe Gratz, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Keith O'Donnell
Published on February 12, 2024

In what has been described as "one of the most heinous scenes" witnessed by a law enforcement veteran, Coty Ann Lyon, a 32-year-old Portage woman, has been sentenced to prison for the death of her 21-month-old daughter, Olivia Louisa Stripling. On Monday, Lyon received a sentence of 22 months to 15 years behind bars after pleading guilty to one count of manslaughter, reported by MLive.

Coty Lyon's initial charges included second-degree murder and second-degree child abuse, but these charges were dismissed in the wake of her guilty plea on Jan. 19, as detailed by Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting. Reflecting on the gravity of the offense, Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge Paul Bridenstine said, "It's one thing to not feed the child that needs to be fed, or not bathe the child that needs to be bathed, but your behavior, which led to this young child's death, is completely inexcusable. It's awful." This sentiment was echoed by Lt. Chad Hunt of Van Buren County Sheriff's Office, who said, "All my years of public service, which has been a long time, I just would like the court to know, probably one of the most heinous scenes I've been on to see what had been done to the child," according to Mid-Michigan Now.

The tragic series of events leading to the child's death began on Aug. 7, 2021, when Olivia was found unconscious on the floor by her babysitter, Melissa Bradley, who spotted the child having a seizure. Despite Bradley's immediate call to 911 and first aid efforts, Olivia succumbed to her injuries, which included a significant skull fracture and brain bleeding, the following day in an area hospital. According to news released by News Channel 3, Lyon confessed to investigators that she had accidentally kicked her daughter after Olivia climbed into her bed while Lyon was trying to sleep, following days of methamphetamine use.

Before Olivia's fatal injury, Child Protective Services had been contacted multiple times concerning suspected abuse, and Lyon had already lost custody of three other children following CPS investigations. During the hearing, Lyon's attorney, Rachel Vinales, asked for probation and pointed out her client's remorse and the grief of living without her daughter. However, Bridenstine made it clear that "what's tragic is that Olivia doesn't get to live a full natural life, that's the tragedy," an aunt of the child also stated, as per MLive, during the sentencing, expressing the family's pain and loss. Lyon has been given credit for 430 days served, hence her time in custody will be considered in her sentence length.