17-Year-old Charged In Sister's Murder

Relates to:
Date: 2008-06-12
Source: WREG.com

FAST FACTS:

  • 2-year-old dies as family returns from Memphis shopping trip
  • Parents immediately jailed
  • 17-year-old sibling now charged with capital murder
  • (New Albany, MS 6/11/8)  The shocking death of a Union County two year old has taken a shocking turn.

    The girl's 17-year-old sister has now been charged with capital murder in her death.

    There had been speculation from the start about the 17-year-old, but one investigator tells me she's a straight-A student at a local Christian academy. The couple's remaining eight children are said to remain in foster care.

    Union County detectives say their investigation into the death of 2-year-old Enna Barreto here has been one of the most difficult of their careers. "Emotionally, just by seeing the children and the shape they were in, and looking into their eyes and of course having to be the pall bearers at the funeral of the one," said Chief Deputy Jimmy Edwards of the Union County Sheriff's Department.

    Officers found them in the family's poorly kept home, which sat behind a puppy mill animal rescue workers called "deplorable."

    Now prosecutors have charged the girl's sister, 17-year-old Marianna Torres, with capital murder in the case, in the belief the death happened during an incident of child abuse.

    "The family had been to Memphis, were returning home, had returned home, and there was a 17-year-old minor that had the 2-year-old in question," said Attorney Tony Farese in an earlier interview.  He says he'll now ask for a bond reduction for the parents, Janet and Ramon Barreto, who remain in the Union County jail on a $50,000 bond for each of seven charges of child endangerment.

    Investigators say they'll oppose that, due to the couple's frequent trips from the United States to Guatemala.

    "The amount of time that they have been across the border in the past couple of years, it shows they do have connections over there," said Edwards.

    Sources close to the investigation suggest life was very difficult for the 17-year-old, that she may have been a primary caretaker for the family. Those same sources suggest, because of that, they see it as unlikely the parents will be able to escape some measure of responsibility for the death of their 2-year-old.

    In the meantime, Torres remains in the custody of State Children's Services, something which has greatly complicated this investigation.

    Detectives say they believe the teen is still hospitalized for a mental evaluation. They hope to get her in custody, interview and have her formally charged before a judge early next week.

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