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Grandmother Found Guilty in Death of Toddler

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Brooklyn grandmother was found guilty of manslaughter in the second degree in the death of her 4-year-old granddaughter on Friday.

Loretta Brett showed no emotion as the verdict that declared her responsible for Marchella Brett-Pierce’s death was read on Friday in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

She was also found guilty of unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child, but acquitted of assault in the second degree.

Brett was on trial alongside her daughter, Carlotta Brett-Pierce, who was found guilty on Wednesday on second-degree murder charges for the September 2010 death of her daughter, Marchella.

Prosecutors said Marchella was tied to her bed with a jump rope for six months, beaten, drugged and starved to death by her mother, and that the grandmother failed to prevent the abuse.

Julie Clark, Brett’s lawyer, said she was disappointed by the verdict and vowed to appeal.

“For somebody that has no record and was not the aggressor and was really trying to help out…” said Clark. “It’s devastating for her and her family.”

Brett faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail.

Jacqueline Kagan, Assistant District Attorney, said she was “very satisfied” with the verdict.

“This is justice for Marchella,” Kagan said. “The people who stand by and watch have to be held accountable.”

Marchella weighed 18 pounds at the time of her death in September 2010, and had more than 70 injuries to her body and head. Lethal dosages of Benadryl and Claritin were found in her body.

She died of child abuse syndrome, with acute drug poisoning, blunt impact injuries, malnutrition and dehydration, according to the medical examiner’s report.

Marchella was born prematurely, at 24 weeks, and weighed just over a pound. She spent most of her life in various hospitals, and required a feeding and tracheal tube.

The jury started deliberating late Thursday and asked for clarification of the charges, read-back of testimonies and additional review of evidence.

But after the trial one of the jurors, Jose Perez, 21, said “everyone was on the same page” from the beginning and that reaching a verdict was not difficult.

“She was living in the house and witnessing everything that was happening, and she did nothing about it,” Perez said, explaining why the jury came back with a guilty verdict for Brett on the top charge. “She knows that it’s not for the best benefit of the child, but yet she still chose not to get assistance or medical help when she really needed to.”

Brett and her daughter will be sentenced in June.

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