Pregnant Broward mom, freed to give birth, is still pregnant, no longer free
09/24/2013 7:23 PM
09/08/2014 6:52 PM
One day after she was freed from the Broward jail so she could give birth to a child, Brittney Sierra was back in custody.
She’s still pregnant.
The plan to allow her to give birth on the outside, signed off on by the state attorney’s office and a Broward judge, imploded.
Sierra will remain in jail until her attorney can find a new host. On Wednesday morning, her attorney told Broward Circuit Judge Matthew Destry that he has a potential place for Sierra to go but needs to vet the person.
The lawyer, Dohn Williams Jr. asked for a court date later in the week if the host checks out. He said it was a relative of Sierra's father.
Sierra had been incarcerated since January, charged with criminally neglecting a toddler son. Dontrell Melvin was not just neglected, he was dead and buried in the back yard. The child was unseen for as long as 18 months before anyone outside the family took note and alerted authorities. After grilling both parents about the boy’s whereabouts, police dug up the yard and found Dontrell’s remains. Calvin Melvin, Dontrell’s father, was also jailed, and remains locked up.
Fast forward nine months.
Sierra, pregnant at the time she was arrested, is now very pregnant.
The plan called for Sierra to move in with Yolande Georges, a Creole-speaking woman who had recently met Sierra’s mother at a Burger King. The mother told Georges about her daughter’s circumstances— but left out some details. For instance, she didn’t mention Sierra was in the final stages of pregnancy or that she was accused in connection with the death of a child.
Sure, Georges said, based on an incomplete grasp of the facts, she would be happy to take in Sierra.
Monday, Georges was present in court — but largely uncomprehending, due to language issues — as the state attorney’s office reduced Sierra’s charges from second-degree child neglect to third-degree neglect and the judge, in turn, cut her bail from $100,000 to zero.
The judge stipulated that Sierra could go free if she stayed with Georges. Sierra would be fitted with an ankle monitor.
Monday night, a Creole-speaking Miami Herald reporter supplied Georges with the rest of the details. She was aghast.
“I’m a servant of God, but no one told me what this was all about,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to trick me.”
Upon her subsequent release, Sierra decamped not at the home of Georges, but at the home of her mother, Renee Menendez.
“Brittney is fine, she is with me. I can’t say anything else anymore,” Menendez said of her daughter.
It wasn’t fine with the court, which issued a new order — that Sierra be picked up and hauled in.
She was to spend the night at Broward Health Medical Center.
Ron Ishoy, a spokesman with the Broward state attorney’s office, said the charges against Sierra weren’t reduced to get a pregnant woman out of jail, but because third-degree child neglect is the most the state believes it can make stick in court.
“Upgrading/downgrading charges is not uncommon once a prosecutor assigned to a case spends extensive time examining all the evidence,” he wrote in an e-mail.
Hallandale Beach Police Maj. Thomas Honan, whose department did the investigation into the case, said the department knew nothing of Monday’s hearing, and that had it been alerted it would have had a detective present, as it has with all prior hearings.
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