Sunday, 27 March 2011

FILICIDE: New York: Carlotta Brett-Pierce: Two ACS Workers Charged With Homicide In Child's Death, Grandmother Faces Manslaughter Charges

Last year, severely malnourished four-year-old Marcella Pierce died in her Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment weighing a scant 18 pounds and showing signs of other traumas. Her mother, Carlotta Brett-Pierce, was arrested and charged with murder, manslaughter and assault, but yesterday prosecutors charged three more people, including two Administration for Children's Services case workers and the girl's own grandmother, with contributing to her death. "Baby Marchella might be alive today had these ACS workers attended to her case with the basic levels of care it deserved, or had her grandmother stepped in and put a stop to the shocking abuse she is charged with facilitating," said Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes.

Two former ACS employees
were indicted on charges of criminally negligent homicide—it's believed to be the first time in the city’s history that child welfare workers had been charged with homicide in a child’s death—and Marcella's grandmother, Loretta Brett, was also indicted on manslaughter and other charges. Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes said, “I said at the time we announced the indictment of Marchella’s mother that this was not going to be an investigation that was going away. We are going to find out at long last what they’re doing at ACS to make sure there are no more child fatalities."
The indictment charges that the grandmother witnessed the little girl being tied to a bed and her crib many, many times. The indictment also charges that former ACS caseworker Damon Adams failed to make nearly all of the mandated biweekly visits to the Bedford-Stuyvesant home, and falsified ACS records to show he did; Chereece Bell, his former ACS supervisor, is accused of failing to properly oversee and monitor Adams' work with Marchella and her family.
In the wake of Marcella's death, a blame war ensued between ACS and nonprofit organization Child Development Support Corporation (CDSC) over who was more to blame for the death. Hynes said that he was convening a special grand jury to investigate “evidence of alleged systemic failures” at ACS. Among the cases they may be reviewing are: Major Gonzalez, an 11-month-old who died of viral pneumonia in Dec. 2009, and whose parents spent six months in jail for neglect; Jashya Brown a two-year-old victim of battered child syndrome who was found dead in August 2008; and Nixzmary Brown, another severely malnourished seven-year-old whose parents are both serving long sentences in jail for her death.

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