Parents charged after 2-year-old son starves to death in Clinton Township

Both parents face potential life behind bars

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Prosecutors say he was starved to death as a mother and father were both charged with the murder of their two-year-old son in Clinton Township.

As horrifying case details were revealed, Sierra Pearl Zaitona and Johnathon Cheek are now being held on a $1 million bond.

“I am devastated,” said Prosecutor Molly Zappitell. “I’ve been crying all weekend, so sick about it I want to cry.”

The biological parents of the two-year-old boy were in court charged with his murder.

The cause of death was listed as starvation. Facing felony murder charges, prosecutors argued both parents were a flight risk.

“There is no reason for her to stay,” Zappitell said. “In fact, she had the baby in Ohio to avoid alerting CPS.”

Zaitona: “That is not true.”

Lawyer: “Don’t say anything.”

“Judge, for the record, the child was healthy in foster care, and once it got into the care of these two individuals, it met its demise,” Zappitell said.

Those who knew the little boy say he was once thriving.

“He was a happy little guy,” Zappitell said. “He was active, making milestones and doing what he was supposed to do.”

Clinton Township police arrested the biological parents late last week.

“I’m so angry people could actually do that to a child,” Zappitell said. “I think this baby needed someone to watch out for him, and nobody was looking out for his interests, and that needs to change.”

Both parents were held on a $1 million bond, with their next court date set for April.

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.