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Posted on Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Man pleads no contest to killing 15-month-old boy in October

By Kyle Feldscher

Note: An initial statement from the sheriff's office said Curtiss pleaded guilty to the charges. He pleaded no contest. The headline and story have been corrected to reflect this.

On the morning his trial was scheduled to begin, Ypsilanti Township resident Michael Curtiss accepted a similar plea deal he turned down last month and pleaded no contest to killing a 1-year-old boy.


Michael Curtiss

Curtiss, 34, pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse and will serve at least 30 years in prison, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said Monday. Curtiss’ trial in the case was scheduled to begin Monday morning, but Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Donald Shelton accepted the plea offer before the trial began.

"It's an awful case," Washtenaw County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Steve Hiller said. "The little boy should still be alive and he isn't."

Curtiss is charged in the death of 1-year-old Chase Miller on Oct. 21. At 12:30 a.m. that day, deputies went to the 1100 block of Fall River Road in Ypsilanti Township for a report of a child possibly choking. When they arrived, they found Curtiss holding Chase Miller, who showed no signs of life.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ChaseMiller.jpg

Chase Miller

Chase was declared dead at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital after numerous attempts to revive him were not successful.

Curtiss was babysitting Chase that night, and testimony at a preliminary examination revealed he pushed the 15-month-old boy into a TV stand while high on heroin. Curtiss told police he lost his temper when the boy vomited on himself and admitting to abusing the child before the fatal shove, according to testimony at a preliminary exam.

Blunt force trauma to the head killed Chase, according to officials in the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Curtiss appeared in court on March 26 after a one-week delay. The case had been delayed in order to allow Curtiss and his attorney, Washtenaw County First Assistant Public Defender Lorne Brown, time to consider the plea-deal offer.

However, Curtiss turned down the offer to plead guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse with a sentencing agreement of between 30 and 50 years. He said at the time he would take his chances at trial because the prison sentence was comparable to the maximum of life in prison he would have faced.

“It’s already a life sentence, the way I see it,” Curtiss said that day.

Brown declined to comment on the case when reached the public defender’s office Monday morning.

A plea of no contest shows the defendant in a case is not going to fight the charges. However, it is not an admission of guilt. For the purposes of sentencing, a no contest plea is treated the same as a guilty plea.

Both second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse carry a maximum punishment of life in prison. Curtiss is scheduled to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. May 14, Fox said.

Curtiss remains lodged at the Washtenaw County Jail without bond.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Lisa Stevens Patterson

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

Why is that when someone post what they heard in the court room of what really happen the comments gets removed ?


Sat, Apr 20, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

I have read a lot of comments and no matter how you look at it he was high and knew he had to care for this child so why would he take anything so yes he is really sick one for using the drug second for killing a child jet him get what he deserves

Lisa Stevens Patterson

Mon, Apr 22, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.



Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 2:43 a.m.

Chase was murdered. That's a fact. The autopsy doesn't lie. I'm sorry for the son of the murderer, because he will have to live with the stigma brought upon him by his 'loving' father. Thankfully, he will at least get to live. He could have easily been a victim of the drug-induced violence. Curtiss damaged so many lives it is ridiculous. The fallout from his actions will not be known for years. I can't get over the thoughts of what that precious baby must have gone through during the last minutes of his brief life. How long did the abuse go on? I can only hope and pray that it was brief, but it doesn't look like it .


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 2:05 a.m.

This is exactly what haunts me. Helpless little baby screaming, probably running back to him for comfort as that's what babies do and get hurt more. I thought long and hard on this and wish Curtiss the same horror he brought to that baby every day of his life. He is a father, so he should know how precious that baby is to his father. I am so disturbed and will forever morn little Chase.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

Some of the comments on this thread are a lot like the ones I read following an article about the severe facial and internal burns that were given to my foster nephew by his mother's boyfriend. Comments by family and friends of the boyfriend saying that what the boyfriend did wasn't that bad, the newspaper article was wrong, that he is such a good, loving, caring man and could never do such a thing, etc. etc. Denial can be a strong mental state. It is also people in this kind of denial that help the cycle of abuse continue. There is no denying that he killed and abused this poor baby. In my opinion who would do what he did doesn't fit the definition of a "good person".


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:52 p.m.

You people amaze me! I understand that "Maybe" he was a good person prior to drug use...I get it, but the fact here is he wasn't that night, and a poor defenseless baby had to endure his drug fueled rage! Are we forgetting Mr. Curtiss stated himself that Heroin made him angry!! And he did it anyway!! knowing he was caring for a baby, and dont tell me what a great Dad he was....instead thank god his son never meet his drug fueled rage!! I'm sure he has regret, but all the regret in the world will never bring that baby back. And for those that want to say he isnt guilty!?! It was an throw a 15 month old baby on to a bed with such force the child bounces off the bed and hits the wall? To then force a child into a safty seat with such force that it leaves marks on his inner thighs & penis? To then continue with rage so great that you shove his little head through a TV stand!? Sorry I must of missed the part that told of the accident. REALLY!?!?! The only defense Mr Curtiss has was he was on Drugs...Drugs that he knew from past experience made him angry and not himself, Drugs he chose to take anyway!! END OF STORY! I pray both sides of the family can begin to heal, but to come on here and act like 30 yrs is to much?? Let these same acts take place on your child/Grandchild and lets see how quick you are to say "Your honor please...30 yrs is just to long." YEAH RIGHT!!


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

I wouldn't so much say people are pointing the finger at the family.. I myself can't imagine the pain that both families are feeling and hope I never have to.. I'd say people are outraged because of people trying to defend him and call what he did an accident.. Did he intend for Chase to die,, No I don't believe so. Did he abuse him while in his care, yes or Chase would still be with his parents..


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

Not justice you have no idea how often I spoke to him or his mother, father, siblings, nephews, etc. why are you people pointing fingers at his family?

not justice

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

thanks blanket it sounds as if we no the family or him better than the ones that have the same blood running threw there veins


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

Oh I'm sorry I know nothing...

not justice

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

ya maybe but he is not a child anymore . they didnt no him......


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

Right on Nojustice.. Just began speaking to his mom a few days before the incident..


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

That is her child..

not justice

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

i am sam noone could of said it better thank you. the people that are taking up for him are the ones mr.curtiss has not spoke to in a couple yrs also. he didnt have a hole lot to do with his family for really a couple yrs. everyone have a blessed day RIP SWEET BABY CHASE, </3


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:59 p.m.



Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

I can't bare to read the horrors this baby faced! I can't imagine his horror, how how how how did he end up in that situation....


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

Maybe "twisted" and "heartbroken" would like to visit him in prison and hold the Poor Murderer's hand.......


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

Homeless-No, Addicted to Drugs-Yes, A Loving Father to his own Child-Yes, History of using and abusing-Yes, Murderer-Yes


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Heartbroken do you not hear yourself.. The baby had bruises on him, on his legs, genitals, them didn't come from caring for a child.. Something horrid happened in his HOME that night... If he wasn't in a fit of rage how did this happen.. Do you not remember when the police visited his home frequently for being high and assaulting the mother of his child.. Please don't delete because he record is open to the public to see.. And I have seen first hand his anger problem luckily he wasn't high or other peoples lives could have been taken.. He knew how he gets while High He admitted he gets angry on drugs..

Dan r OBryan

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

heart broke .how would you feel about him ,if he broke your head in one of his drug fits .you say homeless,but had Drugs .well now hell have a home and no drugs .or children for him to beat up on


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Blanket your wrong maybe if you heard the medical examiner speak you then could comment! He also was not in a fit of rage man You people twist so much!


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

I just can't imagine how anyone can put their hands on a baby. Most innocent being, and we are wired to want to protect them not just ours but all babies. I am so sad him and his family.

Dan r OBryan

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

he will be treated fairly in prison .inmates and officers will have love to see him there .he wont be judged by his crime . NOT .


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

And just for the record.. The baby had severe head trauma that doesn't happen accidently.... He was high and in a fit of rage.. Horrible decision on his part..


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

Anyone that knows the real Michael and tells the truth gets deleted but those that feel bad for him and his actions don't get deleted his addiction was public knowledge everyone knew and his violent tendencies was public knowledge the man deserves 50


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

@not justice I have known and been around him for 34 years what are you along about??


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

Well if it was public knowledge why in other comments does it say he hid his drug use from others and some thought he had changed? I am so confused?

not justice

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

heartbroken you new mike as who he was not who he has become. cause yeah drugs changed who he was. and i dont think you where around him after that. so sad :(


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Well I know the REAL Michael! I feel bad for is actions cause a baby was killed flat out! I feel horrible for him cause he has to life with this. He has to life with not being the wonderful father he was to his son! He was not a perfect man but all those who claim to know him were right there with him doing all the same crap.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

In the mothers defense, she has known him since highschool, his drug abuse everyone thought was in the past. If you ever seen the love between him and his son you wouldn't think this crime could have ever been possible..


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

Why was this baby with him?

Tim Hornton

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

Yes there is evil in the world.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

I agree with whoever said its a shame that some of this conversation is allowed. This is by far probably the most ignorant thread I've read on here! And though you may not be writing the commentary you are reviewing it. I've seen you close commentaries and I am curious as to why this one wasn't closed. I don't know if these are relatives defending this CHILD MURDERER but I think its deplorable that relatives of the deceased could be reading this. This is a public news source, not a personal blog. I'm very disappointed in the professional judgement used in this posting. And for the bleeding hearts saying he's sorry and it was an accident, blah, blah, blah. You should be ashamed to fix your mouth to utter those words. Many people caught doing wrong are "sorry", was he sorry while he was abusing the child? It was an accident because he only meant to beat him bu t not kill him right? Pathetic. And of course there is more to a story, there always is so shame on all parties involved. And for the record 30 years isn't life, he could potentially get out of prison as a senior citizen and then because he's a murderous felon who can't be employed will live off of government aid at the tax payers expense. Boy, big loss for him. If he is a heroin addict than a guaranteed 3 hots and a cot for 30 years sounds like a deal anyhow.

not justice

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

i really dont no no anything. i just have heard....


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Heartbroken, was he just a recreational heroin user then? I am pretty sure that is not possible. He said he was high on heroin. You should stop while you are behind. You will never get sympathy for a baby killer.

greg s

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

Exactly why MI should have the death penalty. This is a classic case of why. No Excuse. NONE


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 6:10 a.m.

I agree. No excuse at all!

Sam S Smith

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

eye for an eye is old testiment... I think it was updated by Jesus

Life in Ypsi

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

Whatever happened to personal responsibility? There is no excuse. Who cares that it was an "accident"? How was it an accident by using heroin while caring for a child. Shame on the people defending this man! Yes, go ahead and slam me again for not having empathy for this guy. I bet those defending him would be singing a different tune had someone killed their kid.

Matt Cooper

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

In the eyes of the law, voluntary intoxication is NOT a criminal defense, and being such, there is no such thing as an accident while high.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

Life in Ypsi , you ask: "Who cares that it was an "accident"? The law does. Accidents do happen, and sometimes they are fatal. But if a man chooses to use drugs, then chooses to abuse a child trusted to him, and the child ends up dead, this is not an accident.

Thinkin' it Over

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

Please fix both typos. It still says this on the lead and also in the article: "...and pleaded to contest to killing..."

Julie Baker

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

That is fixed. Thanks.

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

Sometimes you just miss old time, Biblical punishment.

Sam S Smith

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

Not me!


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

I am not asking for sympathy by no means,I feel terrible for that baby I really do,BUT I know other things to know this wasn't a brutal murder like everyone READS,drugs this drugs that all YPSI is on drugs it's sad:( the baby got justice I'm simply saying 30 years is LIFE,The man will be 64 years plus he has alot of time to think ...anyone not involved DONT KNOW NOTHING,!!!

Lisa Stevens Patterson

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

It first was the floor when he feel off bed and then the tv stand was after the TRAUMA CHASE WENT THROUGH. Never thought this man would kill a child but his choice was to do drugs not CHASE. What he did to that baby should be done to him and see how it feels. Sorry thats how I feel


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

He killed a defenseless sweet boy who was probably scared out of his mind, not understanding why this devil was hurting him. That's the whole story, not why or how. Why the child was with him is another question, or why he agreed to "care" for a baby in the first place. But the end result is a sweet baby is gone violently. End of story.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 11:12 a.m.

I don't need to read the articles I have listen to it first hand! This article started off incorrect so you shouldn't believe everything you read.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 1:29 a.m.

So clearly you haven't read the article I'm quoting "Curtiss was babysitting Chase that night, and testimony at a preliminary examination revealed he pushed the 15-month-old boy into a TV stand while high on heroin. Curtiss told police he lost his temper when the boy vomited on himself and admitting to abusing the child before the fatal shove, according to testimony at a preliminary exam."


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

@not justice were did you come up with hit and slammed down??you have clearly been missed informed. Pretty heartless to say his son is blessed. God willing all this ignorance from people whom have no business judging anyone be gone from the Internet for this little boy to ever read how cruel people are.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 12:22 a.m.

@ypsisoul no he wasn't hit against a tv stand. Don't twist the story you have read.

not justice

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

and also yes i said it maybe now since the baby killer daddy is put away you can help focus on helping his son move forward in life and become a great man one day an less trying to tell me what i already no. i no baby chase miller did not and will not ever get justice. can you imagine that lil boy in the house with this evil man im sure he was so scared and couldnt even speak the words to say so you no he was in pain and he hurt and suffered. it didnt jus happin in one sec. he felt the pain of beig hit and slamed down im sure all that baby wanted was to be held an loved he hurt and had pain before he died ... are you serious im getting so angry with people who wanna stick up for him an think this is justice. im thinking of them last moments of how chase felt and he couldnt fight back so YES I SAID IT!!!!!!!!!

not justice

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

yesisaidit i have been through buring a child so dont go there and for his son it could of been him at his dads house that got killed cause he got on curtisses nerves while he was high on heroin. so that lil boy is blessed to still have a chance to live life and i hope him the best but with a father like that that boy probley didnt stand a chance. im sure the lil boy dosnt understand but one day he will. and i do understand that is his dad he will always love him. so think about the lil one who is not hear ...


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

This man that you are calling a monster also has a son and he loves his dad no matter what I hope one day no body you love has to deal with this and no I am not family! But yes I know the little boy that also lost in all of this.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

Maybe others that were just as close to this case were doing them with him also? Maybe he should of not been left that night with Mr. Curtiss a lot of what ifs and maybe in this case


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:39 p.m.

"all YPSI is on drugs" This is blatantly false. I know a lot of decent hardworking people from Ypsilanti who have nothing to do with drugs. "30 years is LIFE". Yes, it is. However uncomfortable and unpleasant, it is precisely that, and very different from what Chase Miler got.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

So he wasn't abused then hit against a TV stand? That sounds brutal to me.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

@scattered and Heartbroken. I think you may want to realize that you are not going to get a lot of sympathy for this man. The main thing is a child that was in his care is gone. This post will probably be pulled but I really feel strongly about this and I am really restraining my comments.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

@barbs mom did I ask for you or him to have sympathy? No.. I am. Sorry for you loss.

Barb's Mom

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 1:48 a.m.

@ Heartbroken-WalkinJoe is my husband. Our daughter was murdered 2 years ago. We know what the mother of the child is going through. we have no sympathy for this man.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

Walkingjoe I myself was not asking for sympathy for him at all. We all feel strongly about this. But until any of you have walked a day in the mothers shoes or his family's shoes don't be cruel and judge.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:14 p.m.

I really don't understand. This story has hurt my soul. This poor baby was abused then killed by someone high on heroin? Because he was sick?? Someone help me understand please.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 7:02 p.m.

I know this an so does he he feels terrible ok an has from the start


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

I'm sure he does feel bad now that he's sober and see's what he has done.. SAY NO TO DRUGS!


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

This sounds so ignorant, "he feels terrible and has from the start"... You say that like its profound that he feels that way and its no big deal. Like he wrecked someone's car, HE KILLED A CHILD!!! You minimalize this like its nothing. "Don't judge him", that's what happens when you commit crimes and are put in the publics eye. Maybe he shouldn't kill children. How about that? And no one is being "Fake", people are upset that thsi happened to a child, they don't have to know the mother or the child or any other relatives. And if someone knowingly left him with a high heroin addict I don't feel sorry for them either. I think its terrible this baby lived such horrid final moments.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 12:14 a.m.

Not justice did you really tell someone to get educated?? That's hilarious. Everyone involved has a heart for this poor lil baby. They have given 100% support to the mother and helped her with any thing she needs. They have been TRUE friends to her not like these FAKE people who use others pain to get attention. How do you know how he feels?? You don't!!

not justice

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

he dont feel terrible and why do you think its ok maybe it should happen to your kids and you might just change your mind have a dang heart for the poor lil baby and the parents that buried him.. have you buried a child??? thats what i thought get educated.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

I guess I can't write the TRUTH nothing was intentional he is not a murderer what ever happened was a accident,30 years is LIFE tho....

Matt Cooper

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Ok. So if he's not a murderer, and what happened is an "accident", why is he not fighting the charges? If it were me, I wouldn't plead anything but not guilty if I am an innocent man facing charges like that. Or is he such a nice guy that he's willing to spend the rest of his days locked up in prison, fearing for his life every time he steps out of his cell...Just because he's such a nice and upstanding member of the community? What exactly is it you think I'm wrong about? Facts are facts: He pled nolo contendere (no contest) which means he has chosen to not fight the charges against him, and this plea will be treated as an admission of guilt when he is sentenced. You don't have to like the law, but that's the way it works, like it or not. If he's going to enter a plea that he knows will be seen and looked at by the court as an admission of guilt, in my eyes that's as good as a confession. I don't know the guy personally, but I have a very, very difficult time believing that he offered up such a plea simply because he's just a nice guy and doesn't want to put the mother of little Chase Miller through a trial. You think what you will.


Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

Well Matt cooper your wrong. His plea of no contest was to protect the mother of his son and to keep mrs. Miller from going thru a trail. Who's preaching about his innocence?? No one! All I am saying you all you people come on here and JUDGE him, his family, etc and its ridiculous!

Matt Cooper

Tue, Apr 16, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.

Heartbroken, I'll answer your question just as soon as you do mine. Were you there? If not, stop preaching about his innocence. The fact that he pled no contest is just as bad as him admitting guilt, and it will be treated as an admission of guilt come sentencing time. He is an admitted murderer, plain and simple, and no amount of preaching his innocence by you or anybody else will change that.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

Matt cooper were you there? Did up see it? If not ow do you know it wasn't an accident??

Matt Cooper

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 9:13 p.m.

I'm wondering, Scattered. Were you there? Did you see it? If not, how do you know it was an accident? You say he's not a murderer. Well, he took a little boy's life. That kinda makes him a murderer, at least in the eyes of the court.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 6:53 p.m.

30 years is about half of the life Chase Miller could look forward to if he was alive.

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

The initial statement from the sheriff's office said Curtiss pleaded guilty to the charges. However, Sgt. Fox told me the plea was actually no contest when I spoke with him a few minutes ago. After being notified of this error, I've corrected the story and made the appropriate changes in the article. I apologize for the confusion.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

Thank you


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

He did not plead guilty! I am pretty positive the plea was no contest. Michael did not admit to anything. This plea as taken to not put the mother thru any more pain, or the mother of his son.

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

You are correct, Heartbroken. The initial information the sheriff's office gave me was incorrect. I've corrected the story.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Guess he finally figured out that maybe a jury wouldn't very understanding.


Mon, Apr 15, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

No he decided to not put more people in pain.