KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Fred Glespie was arraigned via video conference in 9th District Court in Kalamazoo, Tuesday afternoon, charged with second-degree child abuse in connection with a fire that killed three young children.
However, Judge Julie Phillips stopped the proceeding not long after they started. One of the judge’s clerks accused a man in the audience of recording the arraignment with his cellphone because he was pointing it toward the monitor. The clerk had previously told everyone in the courtroom to put their phones away.
The judge told the man to approach the bench and explained that he was being held in contempt of court. The man was also told to take his hat off more than once. After he returned to the audience, he asked the judge how he might get his phone back.
The judge yelled, “Sit down and take your hat off!” The man was arrested in the hallway.
Right before the arrest, the judge wrapped up the arraignment.
The fire that killed three young children happened on February 18th of this year. The siblings were left alone in an apartment at Interfaith Homes in Kalamazoo.
Jonetta Woods, Glespie’s former girlfriend, was the children’s mother. Glespie and Woods were both charged with neglect for the incident back in May but it was a civil case, not criminal.
During the neglect trial, Woods testified that she asked Glespie to watch her children. Glespie said she didn’t ask him to do anything. The children died when the apartment caught fire. A fourth child escaped and ran to safety.
Court documents show Glespie left the kids alone to go grab some movies the day the fatal fire happened. The probable cause affidavit asserts that Glespie knew the children were unsupervised.
On Tuesday, Woods also appeared in front of a judge in family court. She’s trying to regain custody of her oldest surviving child, 5-year-old Drayana O’Day, who escaped the fire. A courtroom clerk said Woods is undergoing counseling. According to what came out in the hearing, the clerk said Woods appears to be making an effort to regain custody and is following the judge’s orders. In three months, another hearing will be held to discuss O’Day’s permanent placement.
No criminal charges have been filed against Woods.