Charges unsealed for Rochester-area father, girlfriend accused in death of 3-year-old girl

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - The indictments have been unsealed for a Rochester-area father and his girlfriend who were charged in the death of a 3-year-old girl.

According to court documents, Michael Stagles was charged with criminally negligent homicide. He pleaded not guilty, and is currently being held without bail. His next court date is set for December 12.

Stagles' girlfriend, Erica Bell, was charged with second degree murder and first degree manslaughter.

Prosecutor Sara Von Strydonck confirmed that Brook was beaten to death.

"What you have here is a case of child abuse, and unfortunately this is a case that's not unlike any you see in this community," she said.

Brook was taken to Rochester General Hospital in November with severe injuries, where she passed away.

The Medical Examiner’s office later ruled that her death was a homicide. Brook's grandfather, John Geer, says the bruises on Brook's body were so bad, doctors though she had been in a car crash.

WROC-TV spoke with Stagles' lawyer, James Vacca, who says Stagles will plead not guilty.

"Mr. Stagles is obviously, through our constitution, cloaked with the presumption of innocence," said Vacca.

Geer says that Stagles was devastated by Brook's death, to the point that he was on suicide watch after she passed.

"I know Mike loved his daughter and wouldn't do anything to hurt her," Geer said. "Unfortunately, he's not the brightest man."

Geer says he believes Stagles was influenced by his girlfriend, Erica Bell, and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He paid the price for it," said Geer. "He paid for it, now with his freedom, and his daughter."

Stagles has been ordered to remain in police custody until Monday, December 12, when a bail application will be made.

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