Brittney Sierra, Charged With Neglect in Toddler's Death, to Face Reduced Charges and Give Birth Again

Remember when four kids under the watch of the Department of Children and Families were found dead in June and July?

Overworked and understaffed employees at the agency repeatedly deemed the living situations of youngsters safe when clearly things were far from it. The whole scenario caused chief administrator David Wilkins to resign and return to his previous job as a technology consultant.

See also: Abused Kids Will Never Be Safe Until DCF Is Fixed

But earlier in Wilkins' tenure -- before shit really hit the fan -- there were three other kids involved with the agency who met tragic ends. Back in January, child investigators realized there were only two children living with Calvin Melvin and Brittney Sierra when there were previously three. Whoops. Apparently the kid had been missing for nearly a year and a half (something neither parent reported) before DCF caseworkers took notice.

Police then found the remains of toddler Dontrell Melvin buried in the backyard of his family's Hallandale Beach home. The parents were jailed for two felony counts each of second-degree neglect, but neither has been charged with the child's death. Yesterday, Sierra's charges were reduced to third-degree neglect.

Sierra's attorney, Harry Dohn Williams, told Local 10 that the charges were very difficult to prove and that he believes they should be dropped altogether. Dontrell Melvin went missing in 2011, and Sierra waited about a year and a half to report that fact. Not only that, but also the Broward County Medical Examiner determined the 6-month-old died as a result of blunt trauma.

Remarkably, the 22-year-old woman who was being held on $100,000 bond will soon be released from jail to birth more spawn. Her fourth child is due at the end of September and will go directly into state custody with his or her siblings. It's unclear if the child was fathered by Calvin Melvin, whose charges were notably not reduced. Neither parent has a violent or significant criminal record, and they both were able to tell police where to find their son's body upon questioning.

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Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.