Father of Brook Stagles pleads guilty to criminally negligent homicide
Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Michael Stagles pleaded guilty to his role in the death of his daughter, 3-year-old Brook Stagles.
Stagles was scheduled to go to trial November 13, but instead left the courtroom in handcuffs and will now head to federal prison.
This comes one week after Stagles' girlfriend, Erica Bell was convicted of murder and manslaughter in Brook's death. She beat the toddler in the stomach, causing ultimately fatal injuries within days.
Stagles admitted to the judge he knew Brook was ill and not eating or drinking for days, but did not do anything about it. He cried in the courtroom saying he had no idea Erica Bell hurt his daughter.
The lawyer for Michael Stagles said his client is devastated about the death of Brook and feels nothing but remorse.
"I have met him many, many times and I haven't seen a smile on his face, once," James Vacca said. When asked if Michael Stagles talks about Brook, Vacca said, "all the time."
Prosecutors say Erica Bell's guilty verdict and now a guilty plea from Michael Stagles are two wins.
"I feel good that there is closure for the family and there is closure to this case and there is some closure to the community," Sara VanStrydonck said. "Especially in the County Executive's plan to reform some CPS and make some really important changes. I think the proposals there were very timely and very important."
John Geer, the grandfather of Brook said the end of this chapter is crucial, but there is still work that needs to be done to save the lives of the most vulnerable children in our communities.
"Cheryl Dinolfo's announcement that she's going to get the hotline up ASAP - that's an extraordinary step," Geer said.
VanStrydonck said Brook's case, while tragic and horrific, can serve as a reminder about what to do if you see a child in need.
"The ultimate tragedy in this, certainly that a three year old lost her life, but also the ability of so many people in this community to have prevented this tragedy," VanStrydonck added. "I'm not just talking at CPS, I'm talking about everybody who came in contact with Brook in those days she was so ill. I have reflected on the kind of conduct I would have engaged in if I saw a child like that and I hope everybody does."
She said to call police, CPS, or Bivona Child Advocacy Center because the most neglected children cannot speak or act for themselves.
"Instead of pointing fingers at other people, I hope other people in the community can look at themselves and think 'you know what, next time I see a kid maybe not being treated in the right way or just a suspicion something was off, I would do something more.'"
Stagles will be sentenced on December 6, 2017, in front of County Court Judge Ciaccio. Criminally negligent homicide carries a sentence of one to four years in prison. Stagles has already served seven months of that.
Erica Bell will be sentences next month for her murder conviction. She faces 25 years to life in prison.