Mother in child fentanyl death case pleads ‘no contest’

June 26, 2023

Jodi Neino during a court hearing in Oceana County’s 51st Circuit Court last April.

Mother in child fentanyl death case pleads ‘no contest’

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

HART — The 30-year-old Grant Township woman criminally charged in connection to the July 1, 2022 fentanyl death of her 4-year-old son pleaded “no contest” to involuntary manslaughter Monday, June 26, during a final pretrial hearing in 51st Circuit Court.

Jodi Michelle Neino was also charged with second-degree child abuse in connection to Eli Jude Schutter’s death, but that charge was dismissed. 

Neino is looking at a prison term of 19 months to 15 years for the conviction, said Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon. “Her minimum sentencing guideline range is 19-38 months, and I expect she’s going to get 19,” said Bizon. She is facing 19-38 months for the minimum term and 15 years for the maximum.

Jacob Schutter during his sentencing hearing last April.

The boy’s father, Jacob Scott Schutter, 33, pleaded “no contest” to involuntary manslaughter, Feb. 13, and was sentenced to a minimum term of 50 months to a maximum of 15 years in prison. A charge of second-degree child abuse in Schutter’s criminal case was also dismissed. 

Forensic pathologist Dr. Jared Brooks testified at preliminary examinations for both defendants in 79th District Court that Eli’s cause of death was “the toxic effects of para-fluorofentanyl and fentanyl.”

“The evidence shows he died of fentanyl poisoning,” said Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon during Neino’s preliminary exam last November, referring to the drugs in the couple’s home as like having a “loaded gun” in the house.

The police report that details the investigation of Eli’s death reveals “uninhabitable” living conditions in the single-wide trailer where the little boy, his six siblings — including an infant — and their parents lived on Clay Road near Rothbury. 

“The house was disgusting,” said Oceana County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jeff Brown, one of the witnesses who testified last fall.

The children were removed from the couple’s home by Child Protective Services. Testimony detailed investigators finding drugs and drug paraphernalia throughout the home.

Deputy Brown described during his testimony the deplorable living conditions in the trailer. He said the ceiling was caving in above bunk beds in one of the bedrooms, and there were no blankets on the beds. The other bedroom also had bunk beds, which were so full of stuff they couldn’t be used. He said the floors were covered with debris and food particles. The bath tub was full of items and could not be used.

A large pile of garbage was in the middle of the kitchen, and the kitchen sink was full of moldy dishes. 

Brown went into the master bedroom that was “floor-to-ceiling full of clothing and junk.” He described how difficult it was to wake Neino who was asleep in the master bedroom amidst all the chaos of sirens from emergency vehicles at the scene.

Neino’s case was scheduled to go to trial next month, but the trial will no longer take place in light of her “no contest” plea. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled, according to court staff.

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