Broward County

Mom jailed in child neglect case pregnant with fourth child

Brittney Sierra, who has been behind bars since January on child neglect charges after her infant son was found buried in the back yard of her former Hallandale Beach home, is pregnant and her attorney is trying to get her out of jail in time to give birth.

“I am trying to make the transition into this world for this baby easier,” said Dohn Williams Jr., who represents Sierra.

On Thursday he plans to tell Broward Circuit Judge Matthew Destry that he hasn’t been able to find a secure facility willing to take Sierra on house arrest so she can give birth and stay with her baby. She is being held on a $100,000 bond on two charges of felony child neglect but can’t raise the money to post bail, Williams said.

“Given the nature of her charges, we haven’t been able to find a place willing to take her,” he said.

The baby is due at the end of September. Williams said Sierra, 22, was pregnant at the time of her arrest Jan. 10

On Jan. 9, police learned that her baby, Dontrell Melvin, had not been seen for 18 months, when he was 5 months old..

Dontrell’s father, Calvin Melvin, 28, is also in jail . He faces two child neglect charges and three felony charges of lying to police.

When police questioned Melvin, he said he had dropped the boy off with his parents in Pompano Beach. When police went to Pompano Beach to find the baby, the officers learned that that Melvin’s parents hadn’t seen Dontrell.

By the time police returned to Hallandale Beach, Melvin was gone. He later turned himself in to police and changed his story several times.

Melvin and Sierra were arrested, and the couple implicated each other in the baby’s death. Investigators dug up the back yard of the family’s former rental home at 106 NW First Ave. and discovered the tiny bones.

The state Department of Children and Families took Sierra’s two remaining children — one of whom was also fathered by Melvin — into state care, along with four children of Sierra’s mother, Renee Menendez. Both women had been the subject of dozens of calls to the state agency.

DCF spokeswoman Paige Patterson-Hughes said this week that she could not confirm the status of Sierra’s children because of a confidentiality rule, but did say Menendez’s children remain in state care.

It wasn’t until March that a Texas lab determined the bones belonged to Dontrell. A couple of weeks later, the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the baby’s death a homicide by “violence of undetermined means.”

Neither Sierra or Melvin have been charged with Dontrell’s death, Hallandale Beach Police Maj. Thomas Honan said Monday.

Meanwhile, Sierra’s attorney is working to get her out of jail before she gives birth to a fourth child.

“Of course she doesn’t want to have her baby in jail,” Williams said.

While there are procedures in place for pregnant inmates, DCF spokesman Whitney Ray said it is not that common.

If a baby is born to an incarcerated mother, a call to the abuse hotline is made and an investigation ensues.

“A baby can’t be born behind bars,” he said,

The Broward Sheriff Office’s said 13 women gave birth while incarcerated in 2010; six in 2011; five in 2012; and seven so far this year.

BSO spokeswoman Dani Moschella said the women are transported to an outside hospital to give birth, but remain in custody.

Williams said that if Sierra remains in jail, she would likely only see her baby for a day before it is taken into state care.

“This is about the baby,” he said.

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