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Jury Deliberates in Trial of Grandmother Charged in Girl's Death

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The jury began deliberating Thursday after closing arguments were made in the case of a Brooklyn grandmother charged with manslaughter of her 4-year-old granddaughter.

Prosecutors said Loretta Brett was the co-parent with her daughter, Carlotta Brett-Pierce, who was convicted on Wednesday of murdering her daughter, Marchella.

Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline Kagan argued that Brett failed to give food and water to Marchella and prevent the physical abuse she suffered at Brett-Pierce's hands.

Marchella weighed only 18 pounds when she died in September 2010, and had more than 70 bruises on her head and body.

Prosecutors say Marchella was bound to a bed in Brett's room from April or May 2010 until she died.

“Every day the defendant walked by," Kagan said, pointing to Marchella's Sponge Bob bed, placed in the middle of the courtroom.

"She kept on walking by," Kagan told the jury. "Hold her accountable."

Brett's lawyer, Julie Clark, said the evidence showed Carlotta Brett-Pierce was responsible for Marchella's death and not Loretta Brett.

"She gave that Benadryl," said Clark, referring to Brett-Pierce. "She gave that Claritin. She forced those pills down Marchella's throat."

Lethal dosages of Claritin and Benadryl were found in Marchella's body.

Clark also argued her client was not aware of the physical abuse Brett-Pierce inflicted on Marchellan and that, ultimately, the responsibility for the child's life rested in her parents', not the grandmother's hands.   

The jury will begin deliberating on Thursday.

Two former Administration for Children's Services employees, Damon Adams and his supervisor, Chereece Bell, who were assigned to Marchella's case, are also awaiting trial on the top charge of criminally negligent homicide.

This is the first time in the city’s history that prosecutors charged child welfare workers.

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