Michelle Gauvin wants conviction overturned in death of 4-year-old stepdaughter

Defense: Woman was poorly represented at trial

LAFAYETTE, Ind. - An Indiana woman serving a life sentence in the beating death of her 4-year-old stepdaughter wants a judge to reverse her conviction in the 2005 killing.

State deputy public defender Joanna Green asked a Tippecanoe County judge Thursday to reverse Michelle D. Gauvin's convictions on the grounds that she received poor representation from court-appointed trial attorneys.

The Journal & Courier reported that Green argued during Gauvin's bid for post-conviction relief that those attorneys failed to object to what she claims was irrelevant and prejudicial testimony from state witnesses.

Gauvin avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty in September 2006 to murder, criminal confinement and neglect of a dependent in stepdaughter Aiyana Gauvin's March 2005 death.

The Lafayette woman was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In 2011, relatives of Aiyana Gauvin were awarded a $75,000 settlement from the Department of Child Services over the handling of reports that she was abused in the months before her death.

Investigators said Aiyana endured months of abuse at the hands of her stepmother and father, Christian Gauvin.

The girl had been tied to various objects, was forced to eat a blended and liquefied mix of foods and had been beaten repeatedly with a broken cutting board, police said.

Christian Gauvin is serving a 50-year sentence after he was convicted of child neglect resulting in death.

Aiyana's death was one of several child deaths across the state in 2005 that resulted in changes to Indiana's child welfare system.

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