Broward County

Hallandale mom accused in toddler’s death released to give birth

Brittney Sierra, jailed since January after her infant son was found buried in the backyard of her home, was released Monday to give birth to her fourth child in the home of a woman she doesn’t know.

The woman, Yolande Georges, said she was asked by Sierra’s mother Renee Menendez to take in her daughter, but apparently did not know that Sierra was pregnant or the reason she was behind bars.

“I was very sensitive for her,” Georges said in Creole during a telephone interview Monday. “I saw her mother and she was crying, crying. She said her daughter was in jail and did not have a place to stay when they let her out.”

After prosecutors reduced Sierra’s charges Monday from two counts of second degree felony neglect to two counts of third-degree child neglect, punishable by up to 10 years in jail - Broward Judge Matthew Destry agreed to release Sierra, 22, into Georges custody.

Hours after the court hearing, Georges had a change of heart.

Sierra, who is nine months pregnant and has been jailed since Jan. 10 when Hallandale Beach police learned that her 2-1/2-year-old son Dontrell Melvin, had been missing for 18 months. Dontrell’s father Calvin Melvin remains in jail facing two child neglect charges and three felony charges of lying to police.

Both Sierra and Melvin led police to dig up the backyard of their former rental home at 106 NW First Ave. in Hallandale Beach. Police found tiny bones buried in a shallow grave.

A Texas lab later confirmed they were Dontrell’s.

Meanwhile, Sierra and Melvin pointed fingers at each other. The Broward Medical Examiners Office ruled the baby’s death a homicide by undetermined means.

Sierra’s two other children, were placed in the care of the Department of Children and Families. Once the new baby is born, he or she likely will be taken immediately into state custody, said Sierra’s attorney Dohn Williams Jr. He had been trying to get Sierra out of jail in time to give birth.

Destry agreed to Sierra’s release Monday under the condition’s that she is fitted with a GPS monitor, she remains confined to the house, she has no contact with Melvin or any unsupervised visits with children under the age of 18, according to the Broward State Attorney’s office.

Williams called Georges a “good Christian woman,” who was doing the right thing by taking Sierra in.

But by Monday night, Georges said she couldn’t allow Sierra to stay in her one bedroom Fort Lauderdale home.

“I’m not involved in this at all anymore, she said. “I’m a servant of God, but no one told me what this was all about. I don’t want anyone to trick me.”

The 62-year old office janitor, who speaks Haitian Creole and very little English, told a reporter Monday that she didn’t ask a tearful Menendez any questions.

She said she met Menendez three times before in recent months. Menendez’s son and her grandson were longtime friends, she said.

When the two women talked, Menendez pleaded with Georges to let her daughter live with her upon release from jail, saying only that Sierra is not guilty of “the accusation.”

Georges, who calls herself devoutly Christian , thought she’d simply provide a place to stay for the young woman because “it’s the Christian thing to do.”

On Monday evening, Georges told a Miami Herald reporter she did not know why Sierra was behind bars. When told Sierra was facing child neglect charges, Georges said “Oh my God! Oh my God! No, God no!”

But Sierra’s attorney says Georges knew what the case was about.

“First of all, for her to say she does not know what the case is about is untrue because I discussed it with her before she went to court,” Williams said.

Georges had to use a Creole translator in Monday’s court proceedings.

Menendez told a reporter Monday that there was a miscommunication where Georges initially thought Sierra had already given birth, but she thought that was cleared up before the court hearing.

“Her English is a barrier,” said Menendez.

As far as not knowing about her daughter’s case, Menendez said she did not go into details, assuming Georges already knew from media reports.

“It’s not like it was a secret,” she said.

Menendez said she or other family members are willing to provide a home for Sierra if Georges backs out.

“I have been supporting my daughter from day one, I’d rather her be with me than anyone else if the court will allow it,” Menendez said. “She’s been through a lot. I want to be there for her."

Menendez said she wanted her daughter to live with her all along, but Sierra’s attorney discouraged that because of a pending Department of Children and Family investigation into Menendez’ background.

Williams blames the media for Georges’ change of heart.

“Her second thoughts can be attributed to the intense media scrutiny she’s gotten since this morning,” Williams said.

Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Catalano said Monday that it is within Georges rights to change her mind.

“There is no law against that woman changing her mind as long as she has always told the truth to the judge,” he said.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office website shows Sierra, who was being held on a $100,000 bond, still jailed Monday night. It was not clear what the next step would be.

“Until I have a chance to speak to the woman myself, I can’t predict what’s going to happen,” Williams said. “I’m getting all of this second hand.”

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