Corunna man charged in death of one-year-old

CORUNNA, Mich. (WSYM) - A Shiawassee County man has been charged in the death of a one-year-old girl who drowned in a bathtub.

As Ann Pierret tells FOX 47, police who worked the case are still trying to come to grips with how it all unfolded.

The 13-month-old died back in March here at the Walnut Acres Apartment complex in Corunna. Police say Makalia's death could've been avoided had someone been paying attention to her.

Justin Councilor, Makalia's mother's boyfriend, has been charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter in the 13-month-old's death.

"It's sad for everybody, but you can't turn your back on 'em even for a minute."

Owosso Police Detective Sgt. Rusty Lamay says on the night of March 20, while the child's mother was taking a nap, the 32-year-old put Makalia in the bathtub, turned on the water and left the room.

"There was some memory loss as far as exactly, like he don't remember plugging the tub, but she knew how to operate the drain, to plug itself. So it's possible that she did that."

Detective Lamay says Councilor left her alone in the bathtub for close to 10 minutes with the water still running.

"They were cooking and having a family dinner. He went to check on some food and check on the family and friends and he just basically got busy, I think, too many things going on at one time."

When Councilor remembered Makalia was in the bathroom, it was too late. The 13-month-old had drowned.

"It's devastating for us, especially if you have kids, to see a little baby there lifeless like that and I'm trying to save her life. And, it was just hard to watch."

Corunna Police Chief Nick Chiros is horrified by Makalia's death, but hopes it sends a message to anyone responsible for children.

"Kids like to check things out, investigate things, just like anybody else, even more so. So you've gotta keep an eye on 'em. It's good that someone's going to be held accountable for it."

Councilor is due back in court next month. He could be facing up to 15 years behind bars.