Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Butt faces new charges, is free from custody

by Rob Ireland

February 13, 2014

ELKHORN — An East Troy mom, whose twin infants drowned in a bathtub in September 2011, was arrested last month on drug charges, and, despite being on probation, is not in custody.

Melody Butt, 28, faces four new misdemeanor charges of possessing an illegally obtained prescription drug, possession of THC, possession of drug paraphernalia and obstructing an officer. All the charges have been elevated to repeater status.

On July 31, 2012, Judge David Reddy imposed but stayed a 10-year prison sentence, which was followed by five years of extended supervision. Butt also was sentenced to 14 years of probation, which included nine months in jail with work-release privileges. For the new charges she faces up to eight years in prison.

It is up to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) to revoke Butt's probation, and, after being contacted by various media outlets, the department released the following statement.

"Based upon the new information we received earlier this week regarding Ms. Butt's pending charges, the Department of Corrections is currently reviewing the case," according to Joy Staab, the director of public affairs with the Wisconsin DOC.

State lawmakers were critical of Reddy after he handed down his sentence. A letter signed by local representatives Sen. Neal Kedzie and Rep. Tyler August stated the probation sentence "falls well short of a suitable response to such a heinous act."

Butt pleaded guilty to a felony charge of neglecting a child causing death and a misdemeanor charge child neglect.

During her sentencing hearing on July 31, 2012, then-District Attorney Phillip Koss asked Reddy to send Butt to prison.

Butt's defense attorney Joshua Klaff asked Reddy for probation. A pre-sentence report from the DOC and a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services also asked the judge to place Butt on probation.

The recommendations from the two state agencies irked state lawmakers. Shortly after the sentencing hearing, Rep. David Craig, a Republican who represents parts of East Troy, filed an open records request with the courthouse to view the letters.

District Attorney Daniel Necci, who is handling the new charges, said it isn't up to his office to revoke Butt's probation. He said that decision lies entirely with the DOC, and it wouldn't be appropriate for him to comment on the DOC not revoking her probation.

The most recent charges

East Troy police responded to a report of a vehicle that had left the road and had driven onto a field. The vehicle was located and the driver was identified as Butt.

Butt's driver's license was suspended and she reportedly gave the officer permission to search her vehicle, according to the complaint.

Inside of the vehicle, police found four pills, which were identified as cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride, which is a prescription muscle relaxant. Those pills were located inside of a prescription bottle, which had the label torn off, according to the complaint.

Police also found three additional prescription bottles that had the labels torn off. Two of them reportedly contained marijuana, according to the complaint.

Butt initially told an officer that she had a prescription for the medication, but then she said that wasn't true, according to the complaint.

The original case

On Sept. 22, 2011, Butt placed one of her 11-month-old twins in a bathtub with her 2-year-old child. She then brought her other infant to the bedroom, which is where she fell asleep.

"I pay the price everyday because of the decisions I have made," Butt said during her sentencing hearing.

Both 11-month-old children died in the bathtub.

It is unclear how the infant who was in the bedroom with Butt ended up in the bathtub.

During the sentencing hearing, Koss said any parent knows not to leave a small child unattended in the bathtub.

"There are so many bad things that can happen," he said. "It wasn't as if she was vigilant and fell asleep while watching them."

Klaff said the bathroom and bedroom were adjacent and Butt could see the bathtub from the bedroom.

"She was in the actual act of parenting and loving that she decided to give them a bath," Klaff said. "This wasn't selfish behavior."

Klaff said at the time of the incident Butt was under sleep deprivation.

"She is depressed, she is overwhelmed and in the final few weeks things deteriorated in that apartment," Klaff said.

When a social worker looked at the apartment after the incident, she said she would have removed the children from it.

Police found dirty diapers on the floor, bottles with curdled milk and food in the sink.

"You wouldn't want dogs or cats to be in that situation," Koss said.

Prior to the incident, neighbors had called police stating that Butt's children were playing outside unsupervised.

"It's not a June Cleaver. There were issues before the incident," Koss said.