From 'Dr. Phil' to probation: Raleigh mom pleads guilty to injuring baby
Posted June 2
Raleigh, N.C. — A Raleigh woman who insisted on the nationally syndicated "Dr. Phil" daytime talk show that she was wrongfully accused of abusing her infant son pleaded guilty in the case Friday.
Mary Martin "Marty" Peele, 37, pleaded guilty to felony neglect resulting in serious bodily injury and was placed on probation for three years. Superior Court Judge James Roberson ordered her to take anger management and parenting classes while on probation.
Peele, who had been a nanny for several years before giving birth to Micah, called a pediatrician in July 2014 to report that the 4-month-old boy had a bruise on his chest and that his ribs were making clicking noises, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita said Friday. She took the boy to WakeMed, where physicians found what Shekita described as "the worst skeletal survey" they had ever seen.
Micah had 12 broken ribs and a possible bite mark on his shoulder, and there was evidence of older injuries as well, Shekita said.
"Neither parent could give any explanation for the injuries. Both indicated they would never harm their child," she said.
Shekita said she she struggled offering Peele a plea deal – she initially was charged with felony intentional child abuse, which carries a maximum sentence of about 12 years in prison – noting Peele didn't accept responsibility for Micah's injuries until Friday.
Last year, Peele went on the "Dr. Phil" show and stated that Micah had a genetic disorder that made his bones brittle, which explained the fractured ribs. She asked viewers to call prosecutors on her behalf and said that anyone responsible for keeping her son away from her would pay.
Micah spent a year in foster care and now lives with his paternal grandmother in South Carolina. Shekita said he has suffered no broken bones since he was removed from his parents' care.
"I hope that someday Micah will know his mother made a mistake and accept it, instead of visiting her in prison or meeting her for the first time when he’s 16. So, I hope I made the right decision," Shekita said of the plea deal.
Peele's friends continued to defend her Friday, saying the criminal case against her was a misunderstanding.
"It’s been horrific, an unfortunate situation, and I want to giver her all my love and support," Laura Antonelli said.
"She’s a bright light most people don’t have in this world," Natasha Foster said. "Micah is gorgeous and deserves his gorgeous family. He deserves that peace. I pray he can get that."
Shekita called it a difficult case because Micah couldn't tell doctors or anyone else what happened.
"There's no winners (in) sending parents to prison for getting frustrated, if that's what it was," she said. "What’s important to me is this child is safe. I hope by her accepting some responsibility and undertaking the psychological evaluations will enable her to be a parent someday to her son that I don’t doubt she loves."