Sean Michael Sowards
September 23, 2004 - June 13, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial
A doctor who testified at the trial of Crystal Conklin, who was accused of killing her son, Sean Michael Sowards, said that his body showed signs he had been abused for his entire short life. The injuries that he had were compared to torture with his entire body having been battered. There were at least 36 bruises as well as cuts and abrasions all over his body. Sean was blind as a result of having been shaken or hit directly on his head, his big toenails had been torn completely off and his eyelids were red and swollen, he was also undernourished.

Also in the home was Sean's older sister, Angel. Angel showed no sign at all that she had been abused in any way. Crystal Conklin and Sean's father, Michael Sowards also live in the home. In the home, blood was found in Sean's room, on the carpet, on the walls of the closet, the closet door and the sheet on his mattress. There were bloody clothes in the laundry and clothing that smelled of vomit in the washer.

When Sean was found, he was unresponsive and laying in his own vomit. At the age of two, he underwent brain surgery to relieve the pressure from the swelling taking place. It wouldn't do any good and two days later, Sean was dead.

Crystal and Michael both denied that they had abused Sean in any way and blamed his injuries on him being clumsy and even went so far as to say that his sister, Angel, was very aggressive towards him. How could parents abuse a child and then try to pass the blame off on to a sibling? Simple, they are self absorbed monsters who care nothing about their children at all. They're trying to save their own butts!

"The whole time he spent here in this short pain filled life, his only problem, his only affliction, 
was having a hateful, heartless monster as his mother"
Elizabeth Herd

      

Sean's grandmother said that she had reported the abuse she had seen and was told that parents have a right to discipline their children and it was none of her business, even when he said that the age of four months old, Sean was being spanked his mother, for crying. She was told that unless she seriously injured him or killed him, there would not be an investigation. If someone had paid attention to her, Sean would probably be alive today. Elizabeth Herd had some harsh, though greatly deserved words, for Crystal. Elizabeth is Sean's grandmother on his fathers side of the family. Saying that Crystal was a monster who hid Sean's injuries before she finally ended up killing him, she had strong words for Crystal:

"Your greatest betrayal was to Sean, this pure innocent sweet and loving little soul who 
completely loved, trusted and depended on you, his mother, to protect and love him. You 
were his life, Crystal. His whole world, his everything and you hurt him" 

Almost a year later, on April 24, 2008, Crystal was convicted of first degree murder and first degree child abuse. Therese Tobin, the chief trial attorney at Prosecutor Eric Smith's office, said that Crystal had been worried about her sons trip to the hospital, however, it was for all the wrong reasons. Therese told the jury that Crystal was more worried for herself because she didn't want her dirty, little secret to get out, she also didn't want to have to talk to the police. Crystal had a lot to be concerned about since Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz said that Sean died as a result of non-accidental blunt force trauma to his little head on June 14, 2007.

Addressing the jury during her closing arguments, Therese Tobin told of the life of Sean:

"Sean Sowards died before he was 3 years old. His life had been very brief and filled with pain. 
He had more pain in those two years and nine months than many young adults and adults 
have in their entire lives"

Therese used testimony from medical experts, relatives and police officers who had all talked about the abuse give to Sean, for whatever reason, by his mother and father. Daniel Spitz talked about injuries in various stages of healing which had been given over a long period of time. Those in juries included fractures, bruised, scrapes to Sean's head, torso and extremities as well as the removal of his toenails. The cause of death was once again identified as blunt force trauma which resulted in the injury and bleeding all over his brain:

"Because of the brain injury, there was profound swelling of the brain. It's the brain's 
response to the injury in this case. That's what led to the death of this child. What 
caused the damage was an impact, an impact to the child's head, which resulted in 
some hemorrhaging that was unable to be managed even with extensive 
surgical intervention"
Daniel Spitz

Several doctors said that the injuries he suffered from were not at all consistent with a child who had fallen, or a bump or even a force that a toddler would be capable of using on him. It was also said that the visions problems Sean had were caused by malnutrition and Therese said that Sean had not developed according to a growth chart of a doctor, due to his neglect. The vision problems cause Sean to have to feel his way around the house:

"Sean's last week was spent almost blind. He would put his hand over his eye for some 
comfort, for some assistance. He was a 2-year-old walking around the house. He was trying 
to find his own way with this own hands. If your child couldn't see, do you let him feel his way 
around the house or do you get him in a car, or get him in an ambulance and get him to a 
doctor? The reason Conklin didn't is the dirty little secret. Sean was abused"

Therese told the jury that the questions before them at that time had nothing to do with Sean's father, Michael. Michael had supposedly rushed his son to the hospital after coming home from work and finding him laying in his own vomit:

"Michael Sowards failed his son. He admitted that to you. He will answer for that later"

Therese asked the jury to consider all of the testimony of Michael and Crystal who had testified in her own defense. Therese Tobin said that Crystal had made up a story for the court in which she said that she was not responsible for Sean's death, that it was Michael who was to blame for his injuries. In court was the first time Crystal had ever mentioned this story. Also pointed out were the differences in how Sean was treated compared to his sister Angel:

"For some reason, Crystal Conklin did not treat her son the way she treated her daughter. 
Why is that? I don't know. What we know are the ramifications of those feelings. What we 
know is that there was a bruised and battered Sean for whatever reason"

Michael remained charged with second degree child abuse in the death of his son. He testified against Crystal and his family was there to support him in the courtroom, they were clearly shaken by the closing arguments of Therese Tobin.

Crystal gave birth to another child, a daughter, in the Macomb County Jail in July of 2007. At her sentencing hearing, Crystal was crying and said very little before Judge John Foster sentenced her to life in prison for the charge of felony murder. This sentence will run concurrently with a sentence of 15 years she received on the charge of first degree child abuse. Crystal, who was 28 at the time, said:

"I am not going to give up fighting this. I am innocent. My daughters are still waiting for me. 
I'm not going to give up"

To her comments Judge John Foster replied:

"You may maintain your innocence, but a jury after listening to testimony found you are 
not innocent. There are enough signs and indications of enormous abuse to the feet, 
toes, eyes and other parts of the body. Anybody who had a chance to observe him 
should have been moved to take him to emergency care"

Defense Attorney Ronald A. Goldstein hinted that this would be his last case and that there might be an appeal. Ronald said that the evidence against Crystal was circumstantial and that no one REALLY knows what happened in their home that day:

"I'm disappointed in the verdict. I thought we presented a good defense. What else can I say? 
She's going to appeal"

Michael Sowards had little to say about his own charges in this case, though he did say something about the verdict in Crystal's case:

"I wanted justice for my son. It's too bad Michigan doesn't have the death penalty" 

I wonder if he'll still feel that way after his own conviction!

Michael Sowards plead no contest to the charge of second degree abuse, in June of 2008. He was convicted and sentenced to an extremely RIDICULOUS short term of nine months in prison with five years of probation to follow that. Michael voluntarily gave up custody of his other two daughters, saying he wanted them to have a better
life.

Im' sorry here, but, if he did nothing wrong, WHY did he give up the custody of his two daughters who were placed in foster care? IF he felt he had to give them up, why not give them to his mother? Something doesn't seem right in that. That's just my own opinion!

Sean's Obituary

Sean Michael Sowards, 2, of Warren, died suddenly Wednesday, June 13, 2007, at St. John Hospital, Detroit. He was born Sept. 23, 2004 at Crittenton Hospital, Rochester.

Sean is survived by his parents, Michael Sean Sowards and Crystal Tamara Conklin; sister, Angelique Sowards; grandparents, Danny and Elizabeth Herd and Kathy Simms; and great-grandparents, Ann VanHeusden, Oniel and Rose Herd, Robert Lee Conklin and Shirley Switzer.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Renaissance Unity Church, 11200 11 Mile Road, Warren. Burial will take place in Resurrection Cemetery, Clinton Township.

Visitation is 3-9 p.m. Wednesday at Resurrection Funeral Home, 40800 Hayes Road, Clinton Township. Additional visitation is 10-11 a.m. Thursday at the church.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Sean Michael Sowards Memorial Fund at any Flagstar Bank.

In January of 2009, Crystal was back in court trying to get a new trial claiming that her lawyer had ignored her requests to bring in witnesses and use battered spouse syndrome as her defense. Crystal was claiming ineffective counsel as the reason she deserved a new trial.

Crystal says that Ron Goldstein failed to interview witnesses who would have been able to back up her allegations that Michael Sowards had abused her physically. She also said she had witnesses who could back her up on the allegations that Michael had abused Sean. Witnesses could supposedly back up claims that Michael's car WAS in the drive-way during the time that Sean had gone unconscious. She claimed that Michael has stopped home for a short time at about 4:30 p.m. and he could have abused Sean at that time:

"I had written to him, Goldstein, many times over and over as I remembered them" 

Ron Goldstein said he has asked Michael in cross examination if he had used physical violence against Sean and Michael had denied it. Ron also said:

"I spoke with Miss Conklin a number of times. If she would've given me names of other 
persons, I would have had my investigator interview these persons"

There were also claims, by her new attorney, Lawrence Katz, that Crystal had called the police on eight different occasions for domestic violence complaints. Ron said if that were true, he would have received copies of the police reports. Crystal then said that she didn't tell the police about Michael's abuse toward her and her son because she was afraid of Michael:

"I was scared. He threatened me. I lied to police. I said he wasn't home. It was hell. I was scared day-to-day. I couldn't go anywhere. I was trapped. I had problems communicating with people. 
It's still there"

Elizabeth Herd was in court and later said:

"Everything she said on the stand was a lie. She's saying whatever she can to get out. 
Everyone else is at fault. Michael would never hurt Sean and never did hurt Sean"

Lawrence said that there were records showing that Sean suffered with Dermatitis:

"It could explain his condition was not attributable to my client"

I wish I could ask Lawrence what he means by that. Sean is dead, that is NOT a "condition" and it's NOT a condition that can be attributed to a skin problem. Children don't go blind, they don't get tons of bruises over their body, they don't bleed all over their rooms, they don't vomit and they don't die from Dermatitis. Lawrence also said that Ron could have prevented damaging testimony from Daniel Spitz, which clearly swayed the opinion of the jury.

Ron said that he had talked to Bader Cassin, a pathologist, trying to get him to testify for Crystal. After reviewing the case, Bader decided that he would not be able to provide positive testimony for Crystal:

"He indicated to me he would not be able to assist in the matter" 

The judge was to decide later, if Crystal would get a new trial date.

UPDATE:

Today is June 15, 2014 and while searching to see if Crystal got a new trial date, I was unable to find out any new information.

Death occurred in the state of Michigan

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