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Published: Thursday, 6/30/2011

Michigan pair charged in death of 3-year-old


HILLSDALE -- A Pittsford, Mich., man and his girlfriend were charged in connection with the June 10 death of the woman's 3-year-old daughter.

James D. Campbell, 29, was arraigned Wednesday in Hillsdale County District Court on charges of felony murder, torture, and first-degree child abuse stemming from the death of Beautiful Skyla Villanueva. A preliminary examination was set for July 6 for Mr. Campbell, who is held without bond in the Hillsdale County jail.

The little girl's mother, Ashley Ferguson, 26, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of third-degree child abuse and accessory after the fact to a felony. She was released from custody after posting bond.

According to Michigan State Police Lt. Jim Shaw, troopers were called to the couple's Hudson Road home June 10 by emergency medical responders called there on a report of a child who fell down the stairs and was not breathing. He said it was immediately apparent the child, later pronounced dead at Hillsdale Community Health Center, had been a victim of ongoing physical abuse.

An autopsy showed she died from head trauma.

"The extent of her injuries led to the torture charge," Lieutenant Shaw said. "It's a very horrific case."

He said as troopers were preparing to take the mother and Mr. Campbell to the hospital, Mr. Campbell allegedly got irate, raised his fists to a trooper, and spit in his face. He was arrested for resisting and obstructing an officer.

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