East Troy mother could face prison in child deaths

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Frank Schultz
Friday, February 14, 2014

An East Troy woman convicted in the bathtub drownings of her twin children and sentenced to probation in 2012 might now be sent to prison.

Melody N. Butt, 28, of 2041 Lily St., East Troy, was convicted of child neglect/causing death in the September 2011 incident, in which she fell asleep while the 11-month-old boy and girl were in the bathtub.

Walworth County Judge David Reddy, in a controversial decision, imposed and then stayed a 10-year prison sentence. Reddy placed Butt on 14 years of probation, to include a year in jail with release time for work and care for her remaining three children.

The Department of Corrections recommended probation, but then-District Attorney Phillip Koss argued for prison time.

Now, Butt is accused of violating the terms of her probation. She is faces four misdemeanor charges in Walworth County Court: illegally obtaining a prescription drug, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and obstructing an officer.

Walworth County District Attorney Daniel Necci said the state Department of Corrections must decide whether to send Butt to prison.

“It's entirely out of our hands,” Necci said.

The state Department of Corrections issued a short statement Friday, saying it is reviewing the case “based upon the new information we received earlier this week regarding Ms. Butt's pending charges.”

The new charges stem from a Jan. 19 incident in which an East Troy police officer came across a vehicle that had run off the road. Butt was the driver, according to the criminal complaint.

The officer found in her purse a bottle with four muscle relaxer pills for which Butt did not have a prescription, three prescription bottles containing marijuana and a cellophane wrapper with a residue of white powder that Butt said probably was Vicodin, the complaint states.

Butt is accused of claiming she had a prescription for the muscle relaxer but later saying she did not.

Necci said his predecessor recommended a 14-year sentence, seven of those in prison and seven on probation.

Necci said he would have taken a similar position and supports Koss' decision. Koss now is a Walworth County judge.

When asked how the Department of Corrections conducts a review, a spokeswoman referred to a section of the department operations manual, which calls for an investigation of the violation to find out what happened, what circumstances contributed to the behavior and the offender's attitude about the violation.

Also, a risk/needs profile and a criminal history would be completed.

The decision would take into account the degree to which the public needs to be protected and the need to hold the offender to account, among other factors.

Depending on the objectives, possible decisions could include revocation of probation, which would mean Butt would begin serving the prison sentence originally imposed and stayed, the spokeswoman said in an email.

The manual says other decisions could include a court review with jail time, a halfway house, treatment, more intense supervision, inpatient or outpatient treatment, a behavioral contract, support groups, an educational program, counseling, community service and/or random urinalysis.

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