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Police: Arizona mom admitted to beating young son to death over ‘potty accidents’

‘I did it. I did it. I have to live with this. I killed my baby.’
Michelle Shirley, of Phoenix, is facing first-degree murder and child abuse charges after her...
Michelle Shirley, of Phoenix, is facing first-degree murder and child abuse charges after her 4-year-old son died.(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Jun. 26, 2021 at 1:09 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 26, 2021 at 4:52 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - An Arizona mother is facing first-degree murder and child abuse charges after beating her young son to death over “potty accidents,” authorities said.

The Phoenix Police Department said Michelle Denise Shirley admitted to killing her 4-year-old son.

AZ Family said the victim was found unresponsive by his stepfather May 31. The child was pronounced dead at a local hospital and an autopsy revealed he suffered several injuries, including a torn spleen, lacerated liver and kidney as well as broke ribs. The boy also had bruises all over his body.

“When these cases are talked about or reported on, that’s the first response, ‘oh my gosh, how could a mom do something like this?,’” said Phoenix PD Sgt. Mercedes Fortune.

Shirley and her husband told police she was the only one who disciplined the child.

Shirley’s husband told investigators she “whooped” him the day before he died because he has been having “potty accidents.”

The husband said he did not see the incident but did hear it. He also said he had seen Shirley hit the child with her sandal in the past. He said the beating that led to the boys’ death lasted three to four minutes.

Shirley claimed she had not disciplined the child in about a month but did “spank him on the butt.” She allegedly took and failed a polygraph.

According to court documents, she told the polygraph operator that she did hit her son the day before he died. After the failed polygraph, Shirley allegedly told police she hit the boy twice before his stepfather found him.

At the end of the interview, Shirley allegedly told her husband while crying, “I did it. I did it. I have to live with this. I killed my baby.”

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