NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two former child services workers who were blamed for the death of a starved Brooklyn girl will avoid prison time.
As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, Damon Adams and Chereece Bell signed papers Tuesday in Brooklyn Supreme Court approving a plea deal that allowed them to walk free. The two former employees of the Administration for Children’s Services were charged with misdemeanor child endangerment in connection with the 2010 death of 4-year-old Marchella Brett-Pierce, who was drugged, beaten and starved by her mother.
Adams served as Marchella’s case worker, and Bell was his supervisor.
They originally faced criminally negligent homicide charges. Prosecutors alleged they failed to prevent the girl’s death. Adams and Bell will have to serve between 350 and 500 hours of community service. Once completed, the charges will be expunged from their criminal records.
“I’m definitely relieved that it’s over,” Adams said. “I still believe that it’s a tragedy what happened to the family. And hopefully, there will be lessons learned.”
Their attorneys say Adams and Bell were singled out, adding they were overworked and did the best they could under difficult circumstances.
“He was absolutely targeted,” said Adams’ lawyer, Anthony Grandinette. “He’s the scapegoat of ACS.”
“There’s a sense of relief that we’re heading on the road to something that’s been a nightmare for somebody who’s spent their whole life working for these children,” added Joshua Horowitz, Bell’s attorney.
Marchella’s mother, Carlotta Brett-Pierce, was convicted of killing the girl in 2012 and sentenced to 32 years to life in prison. Prosecutors say her crimes were monstrous, that she slowly starved the girl to death, even one time tying her to a SpongeBob SquarePants bed for trying to open the refrigerator.
Marchella was just 19 pounds when she died.
Marchella’s grandmother, who slept in the girl’s room, is also serving 5 to 15 years in prison for failing to stop the abuse.
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