The mother accused of murdering her 4-year-old daughter took the stand in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Monday, referred to the child as "my baby” and denying accusations that have been leveled at her during the trial.
Carlotta Brett-Pierce said her daughter, Marchella, who weighed 18 pounds when she died in September 2010, did not appear too thin to her.
“To me, at the time, it didn’t look bad,” Brett-Pierce said on the stand. “To me it looked like a child that wasn’t sitting on her booty in a hospital.”
Marchella had only a kernel of corn in her stomach at the time of her death and more than 70 injuries to her body and head, Brooklyn's deputy chief medical examiner testified in court last week.
She died of child abuse syndrome, with acute drug poisoning, blunt impact injuries, malnutrition and dehydration, according to his report.
Outside the courtroom, Brett-Pierce’s lawyer, Alan Stutman, said the best thing that came out of the testimony was that the jury got to see his client “as a mother.” During her testimony, when she talked about the difficulties her daughter faced since being born, Brett-Pierce did seem to achieve that.
Brett-Pierce seemed calm and composed on the stand, as she described how she visited Marchella in all institutions she stayed at and how she learned to use a tracheal and feeding tube, which Marchella needed.
Marchella was born prematurely, at 24 weeks, and weighed just over a pound. She suffered from a variety of ailments and spent most of her life in various hospitals.
When cross-examined by the prosecutor, Brett-Pierce, became combative at times. She denied certain events, which prosecution plans to offer a rebuttal to later this week.
In the last question from the prosecutor, Brett-Pierce acknowledged her younger son, at nine months, weighed 18 pounds – the same amount as Marchella, when she died at the age of 4.
Prosecutors also allege that Brett-Pierce tied Marchella to the bed of Loretta Brett’s, the child's maternal grandmother, from April or May 2010 until she died.
Brett-Pierce said she only restrained Marchella once, in September 2010, after she put out her tracheal tube several times.
Brett is also on trial, facing charges with manslaughter.
Both women have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
With the Associated Press