Woman found guilty of manslaughter in grandson’s death

Author: Christina Lusby
Published: Updated:

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- On day three of a trial, the jury found a grandmother guilty of manslaughter in the death of her grandson.

Gale Watkins was on trial after her 3-year-old grandson Michael McMullen suffocated from being wrapped too tightly in a blanket.

The medical examiner took the stand in court Thursday morning and both sides made their closing arguments.

Watkins entered a not guilty plea early on. She was not on trial for the child’s murder. She was accused of manslaughter by culpable negligence, meaning the state needed to prove two things to the jury: that McMullen is dead and that his death was caused by a reckless disregard for human life.

According to the jury, the prosecution did just that.

The prosecution said Watkins lied to investigators and didn’t reveal the wrap method until she thought she had to take a lie detector test. The wrap method was demonstrated numerous times at trial. It involved wrapping the 3-year-old up from head to toe six times with his arms by his side, knots were tied behind his back and he was left face down.

Watkins’ defense says she went to lay down for a nap while leaving her grandson in the care of Donella Trainor. Prosecutors argued Watkins was aware of the bizarre method of discipline, she saw him wrapped the day he died and did nothing.

Testimony revealed the toddler was screaming for help and telling his grandmother to “let him out, he would be a good boy.” Prosecutors say Watkins left the room and took a four hour nap instead of making sure he was untied.

There were three adults in the home at the time of McMullen’s death. Trainor, the family friend who wrapped the toddler, took a plea deal and received 20 years in prison. The other man in the home at the time of the toddler’s death, Douglas Garrigus, received 10 years in prison.

Sentencing for Watkins will take place on January 12.

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