Prosecutors say a southern Minnesota man they charged with suffocating his son on the family couch may well have married the child’s mother in order to get her to back off her account of his drunkenness leading up to the death.
That’s the crux of the explanation the Steele County attorney’s office gave last week when it dismissed second-degree manslaughter and child endangerment charges against Cory N. Stucky, 31, of Blooming Prairie, in the July 2015 death of 8-week-old Myles. A trial by jury had been scheduled for Monday.
The boy’s mother, Amy J. Solland, initially told investigators that she and Stucky were hosting neighbors for a swim, and he downed 24 beers by nightfall before joining others at a bar for more drinks.
The next morning, Solland continued, she saw Stucky on the couch, his face toward the back. She spotted one of Myles’ legs. Myles was facedown as she moved Stucky’s arm off the boy’s head. Autopsy results found that Myles died from asphyxiation.
However, County Attorney Daniel A. McIntosh wrote in dismissing the felony counts, Solland married Stucky in July of this year and informed prosecutors in late August that “she ‘exaggerated’ the defendant’s conduct regarding his intoxication” and other actions in connection with Myles’ death.
That about-face prompted McIntosh to write in his dismissal filing, “The state believes that the marriage may be the product of manipulation by the defendant.”
Without that earlier account from “the sole witness to the events leading up to [the boy’s] death,” McIntosh continued, he felt it would be difficult to prove Stucky was “reckless” or “culpably negligent.” Those are the legal thresholds for proving second-degree manslaughter and child endangerment.
Stucky’s attorney, Bruce Rivers, challenged the prosecution’s contention that his client’s marriage to the baby’s mother a year after the death was for anything less than love.
“This [explanation] is absolutely ridiculous,” Rivers said. “Without a doubt, they love each other. There was not one ounce of manipulation” by Stucky in his marrying Solland.
McIntosh “knows that my client and his now-wife have been going through counseling for months” because of their baby’s death, Rivers added.
There are criminal cases in Minnesota in which one spouse is not obligated to testify against another. This “spousal privilege,” however, does not apply in Stucky’s case because the charge involves a homicide.