A Battle Creek mother who beat her son and locked him in a closet has entered a plea to child abuse.
Megan Schug, 24, pleaded guilty Tuesday before Calhoun County Circuit Court Judge Sarah Lincoln to first-degree child abuse and faces up to life in prison.
She is scheduled to be sentenced April 13.
Doctors said the boy, Maloyd Gaines, was four and nearly dead when Schug took him to Bronson Battle Creek on March 22, 2017.
The boy was lethargic, emaciated and having trouble breathing, doctors testified at a hearing in June.
"I saw a child that was near death," Dr. James Yenger told District Judge James Norlander.
Battle Creek police alleged that the child was kept in a locked closet for days at a time and was not fed, his feet were bound and he was forced to urinate and defecate on himself.
The child lost several toes to gangrene and remains in a rehabilitation facility, prosecutors said Tuesday. A court ordered her four children removed from her custody.
A second person, Isaac Miller, 35, described by police as her boyfriend, also is charged with child abuse and is scheduled to stand trial in March in circuit court.
Schug was not given an agreement for her plea, according to defense attorney Ronald Pichlik. If she assists prosecutors and testifies at the trial of Miller, "she will hope for some consideration for her cooperation for sentencing in her matter."
Schug told the judge she placed the boy and her daughter in the closet overnight as punishment without any lights or food or water and that she whipped the boy with a paddle.
Although the mother denied it, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Daniel Buscher said the investigation showed that the child's feet were tied and that the abuse continued between December 2016 and March 22, 2017, when she took the boy to the hospital.
Police have said Schug has admitted to the abuse but also told them she was forced by Miller to punish the children.
Before her plea, Judge Lincoln ruled that she was competent following an evaluation and a report from the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Saline.
Schug remains in the Calhoun County jail.
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