Mother in child fentanyl death case sentenced to prison

August 28, 2023

Jodi Neino

Mother in child fentanyl death case sentenced to prison

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

HART — The 30-year-old Grant Township woman convicted of involuntary manslaughter in connection to the July 1, 2022 fentanyl death of her 4-year-old son was sentenced to 19 months to 15 years in prison in Oceana County’s 51st Circuit Court Monday, Aug. 28.

Jodi Michelle Neino pleaded “no contest” June 26 in connection to Eli Jude Schutter’s death.

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 against both Neino and Schutter was dismissed. 

Forensic pathologist Dr. Jared Brooks testified at preliminary examinations for both parents 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. Testimony detailed investigators finding drugs and drug paraphernalia throughout the home.

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. 

“Eli missed his sixth birthday last week and he would have been starting school today,” said his aunt, Amanda Rudat at Neino’s sentencing hearing. “This has been a life sentence put upon my family and all of our family. Sentencing doesn’t really take any of this away or make it better. I’m thankful that there was a plea agreement, and we don’t have to go to court. There is nothing anybody can say that makes Jodi and my brother not at fault — because they lived in that home. I pray for Jodi every day. I pray that while she is serving her sentence … that she gets the help she needs. I know from both of them there is remorse, and they know that they both messed up — more than messed up, they changed not only their lives, our lives…”

“This has been a traumatic experience for everybody — the entire community has been shaken,” said Prosecutor Bizon. “We believe the 19-month sentence is appropriate under the law and under the guidelines. I appreciate Ms. Rudat putting on the record that they appreciate the plea agreement, because it is appropriate for everybody to move forward.”

“This whole situation is absolutely tragic,” said Judge Susan K. Sniegowski. “The fact that a 4-year-old child was able to get his hands on a controlled substance in this case is just inexcusable. I understand that the complexities of the case would have put a lot of uncertainty in a trial in all directions. The bottom line is you have two parents who were responsible to keep their children safe and neither of them were able to do that and both of them were present in the home at the time. I believe that the parents have been profoundly impacted by this, and I hope it changes their behavior when they get out of jail. I hope you’ve really learned something from this situation, and I hope you change your life when you are released from prison,” the judge addressed Neino directly.

Neino had no comment at the sentencing hearing. She received credit for 291 days served in jail.

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