Judge resets bond for dad, reinstates bond for mom accused of manslaughter in son’s death.

September 13, 2022

Judge resets bond for dad, reinstates bond for mom accused of manslaughter in son’s death.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — Judge John Middlebrook of Oceana County’s 79th District Court reset the bond Tuesday, Sept. 13, for a dad and reinstated the bond for a mother, both of whom are accused of manslaughter in connection to their 4-year-old son’s death.

Jacob Scott Schutter, 32, and Jodi Michelle Neino, 29, were arrested Friday, Aug. 26, on charges of manslaughter and second-degree child abuse. Their son’s death certificate lists the cause of death as “toxic effects of para-fluorofentanyl and fentanyl,” said Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast. The manner of the death is listed as “indeterminate.” 

Both Schutter and Neino were arrested at their home at 4075 W. Clay Rd. in Grant Township by Oceana County sheriff’s deputies, Sept. 2, for violating their bonds following random drug tests.

Their bail was set at $10,000/cash/surety/10 percent following their initial arrests, and both bonded out.

Deputies reported to the couple’s residence, Sept. 2, at 10 a.m. to perform drug tests on the pair. They tested positive for “multiple controlled substances,” including “hard drugs — very hardcore drug use,” said Sheriff Mast. They were lodged in the Oceana County Jail for violating their bonds — drug use is prohibited as a condition of their bonds.

The couple appeared in court Tuesday wearing jail jumpsuits and with their court-appointed attorneys, Ryan Good and Julie Springstead-Waltz. 

After hearing testimony from Oceana County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Brown who visited the residence Sept. 2, Judge Middlebrook ruled that Neino’s drug test “violated her constitutional right. That is something the court takes very seriously — I have an oath to the constitution to follow. The court is ruling that the test was not done according to the rules and is reinstating Ms. Neino’s bond.

“Bond violation is denied, and the court is reinstating the original bond.” The basis of his ruling was that “the deputy didn’t observe any signs that Ms. Neino was under the influence, but had suspicions.

However, the judge ruled that Schutter’s drug test did not violate his constitutional rights, because the deputy observed him “sweating profusely and had slurred speech,” according to his testimony. “In Mr. Schutter’s situation, the request for the test was lawful,” he said. “Mr. Schutter violated the terms and conditions for his bond. I am revoking his bond.”

The judge reset Schutter’s bond to the original amount of $10,000/cash/surety/10 percent, but with the condition that he be placed on house arrest with a tether.

The purpose of a bond is: 1. to ensure public safety and 2. to ensure somebody appears in court, explained the judge.

Neither Schutter nor Neino have prior criminal records, said Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon, although Schutter has a juvenile record involving larceny cases.

‘There is no flight risk and no public safety risk,” said defense attorney Good. “The only people in the home are the two of them.” 

Prosecutor Bizon indicated that their other six children are currently residing with grandparents.

Schutter’s house arrest excludes trips to the gas station, grocery store, court appearances and supervised visits of the couple’s children.

“No drugs — you’re ruining your life,” said the judge to the couple at the conclusion of the hearing.

Schutter and Neino are scheduled to appear for a preliminary exam in district court Sept. 27

Manslaughter is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and second-degree child abuse carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

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