Mother Charged in Murder of 4-Year-Old Daughter

New indictment adds murder, manslaughter charges to those filed in October

Tuesday, Nov 9, 2010  |  Updated 11:45 AM EDT
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Carlotta Brett-Pierce (inset) was arrested in connection with the death of her 4-year-old daughter.

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The mother of an emaciated and abused 4-year-old girl found dead in her home two months ago has been charged with murder in connection with the tot's demise, the district attorney's office said.

Carlotta Brett-Pierce, 30, was charged today with two counts of second-degree murder and one count each of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child. Those charges are in addition to the second-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment charges revealed in an October indictment against her.

Authorities believe Brett-Pierce tied her daughter, Marchella, to her bed, battered her with household items, deprived her of food and water, and force-fed her over-the-counter medication, including Claritin and Diphenaydramine, a generic form of Benadryl, over a period of two months.

Marchella died Sept. 2 of child abuse syndrome, with acute drug poisoning, blunt impact injuries, malnutrition and dehydration, the indictment says.

Meanwhile, the city's child welfare agency and outside care providers responsible for monitoring Marchella's case are being criminally investigated, a prosecutor's spokesman said last month.

The girl's mother told police she found her 18-pound daughter's cold and unconscious body on Sept. 2 and tried to resuscitate her before calling 911.  According to U.S. health statistics, the average weight of a four-year-old in this country is 35 pounds.

Marchella was born with underdeveloped lungs, had serious trouble breathing and had a breathing tube in her throat, authorities said. She had been hospitalized in the months before her death.

The Brooklyn hospital that released Marchella into her mother's custody also will be investigated, prosecutor's spokesman Jerry Schmetterer said.

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