Parents sent to prison for young son’s death

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The parents of a 19-month-old child who was deprived of water until he died are headed to prison after they were sentenced Thursday.

Andrea Todd, the mother of Yurik Birkenmeyer, will spend 16 to 80 years in prison while father Alexander Birkenmeyer will spend 20 to 80 years in prison. 

Yurik was found dead in his crib March 16 at his family’s Wyoming home on Longstreet Avenue, near US 131 north of 28th Street.

The temperature at the home was 85 to 90 degrees due to a space heater in the room.

At a hearing in August, a forensic pathologist testified the boy weighed 22 pounds at death, the same weight as he was at 9 months, according to the child’s medical records.

Investigators believe the child had been neglected for a significant period of time.

Last month, both parents pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse.

On Thursday, the mother had little to say to the sentencing judge. 

“I’m just sorry I have to be here,” Todd said.

The father apologized to the parents who adopted him when he was a child in Russia.

“The main person I would like to apologize to is my son, but he is no longer here. So, I would like to apologize to everybody else that’s involved with this my parents who share my name and have to go through all this with me, Andrea and everybody else that’s been involved,” Birkenmeyer said.

Following the sentence, Yurik’s aunt said Todd loved her children, but justice was served.

“I’m not just fully putting the blame on him, because Sis knew what was going on, she just didn’t do anything about it. Do I think she should have gotten lower?” said Cheyenne Huff. “Yes, but I think both of them got what they needed to.”

These parents had two other children. One died in 2015 and the other was born a few months ago while the mother was in the Kent County Jail.

The child who died in March 2015 was due to sudden infant death syndrome related to co-sleeping with Birkenmeyer, according to court records.

When Todd was arrested in July 2018, it was revealed that she was pregnant with their third child.

The child is in foster care and prosecutors will be seeking termination of Todd’s parental rights.

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