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Christina Welch died when she was just 19-years-old. She had spent her life unable to speak, walk or sit up on her own. Her disabilities were the result of brain-damage she suffered when she was just 2-months old. At that time, her father, Mike Wells, was just 19-years-old. In an attempt to stop her from crying he had shaken her and put his hand over her mouth. He shook her so violently and prevented her from breathing so long that she had severe brain damage. The initial incident happened in 1989. Both Mike Wells and his wife Tina Wells were convicted of aggravated child and each served less than a year in prison.
The baby, Christina, was adopted by Maureen Welch, now 77-years-old. Mrs. Welch raised Christina, who she called ‘Beanie’ and another disabled child.
After prison, the Wells went on with their lives. They had more children and lived in Florida and Central Georgia. Mike Wells worked in a used-tire store. The family lived in mobile homes. Neither Mike or Tina got into serious trouble with the law again.
Early in 2005, the Wells got permission to visit Christina at her home. Maureen Welch said that they both seems disturbed by their child’s appearance and that Mike commented that he didn’t realize he had hurt her so badly. He told Welch that she was a ‘guardian angel’ for taking care of his child for all those years.
Then on March 15, 2006, Christina Welch died. She was just 19-years-old. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was a result of the traumatic brain injury she had suffered as a baby, almost 20-years before. He determined her death was a homicide. Prosecutor Michael Halkitis went after Wells. Halkits was the same prosecutor who put him and his wife in jail for the initial abuse of Christina in 1989. He said it wasn’t a hard decision to prosecute him for her murder, even though he had apparently straightened up his life in the interim. He said they didn’t expect her to live back then and were ready to prosecute him at that time should she have died. He said it didn’t matter to him that it was almost 20-years later, he feels that Wells is still responsible for her death.
Halkitis also points out that the two cases are different because of a plea deal the Wells took when they were initially sentenced for child abuse against Christina. In the 1989 case, they were sentenced to prison for unspecified acts of child abuse. Since Christina had suffered broken ribs, a broken clavicle and bruises to her head during the shaking, Halkitis was able to specify the shaking and covering the baby’s mouth as separate, specific acts that caused Christina’s brain damage and eventual death. By doing this, the judge ruled out the double-jeopardy argument of the defense as well as the argument that the death occurred more than a year and a day after the offense, as per old English common law.
In March 2010, Christopher Michael Wells, now 42-years-old, apparently decided not to risk a jury trial in which he could have faced life in prison. Instead, he pleaded no contest to second-degree murder. He has been sentenced to 15-years in prison. As part of the plea deal, Wells will not be able to appeal the case. So the father is now jailed for the second time for abusing daughter Christina Welch. Tina Wells was not charged in Christina’s death. She is currently living in mobile home with her mother and her other children in Monticello, Georgia.