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Pair's bond $350,000 each on endangerment charges


Pair's bond $350,000 each on endangerment charges

5/23/2008 6:11:28 AM


Daily Journal

NEW ALBANY - Bond was set at $350,000 apiece Thursday for Ramon and Janet Barreto, the Union County couple charged with child endangerment.

The Barretos are charged with seven counts of child endangerment, one of which may have led to the death of their 2-year-old daughter, Enna Barreto. A preliminary autopsy report showed the child died early Monday as a result of a blow to the head.

The bond was set in Justice Court, with $50,000 for each count.

Union County Sheriff Tommy Wilhite said the Barretos told investigators that the child suffered the head injury when she fell out of a shopping cart at a Memphis grocery store. According to the Barretos, it wasn't until a few hours later, when the couple had returned to New Albany, that the child was taken to a local hospital and then airlifted to Le Bonheur Hospital in Memphis.

"We have not confirmed if that story was true or not, but that's what the mother told us happened," said Wilhite. "We are still working on the investigation."

Wilhite said charges may be upgraded when the investigation into the child's death is complete.

Tony Farese, the Barretos' attorney, said his clients had nothing to do with Enna's death.

"When this investigation is over I believe my clients will be exonerated," said Farese. "They have fully cooperated with police and have even volunteered to take a polygraph test if needed. This is just a tragic situation because the death of the child was caused by a 17-year-old sibling. The parents are extremely saddened by the fact that their 17-year-old daughter may be charged with the child's death."

No one has confirmed that the 17-year-old is being charged.

Farese said the 17-year-old is now in the custody of a court-appointed guardian, and a criminal defense attorney may have been appointed for her.

District Attorney Ben Creekmore filed a motion to deny bond for the Barettos. Farese said that motion will be answered next week.

Creekmore was not available for comment.

Enna was one of seven Guatemalan children adopted by the Barretos. Janet had two biological children living in the home as well and is seven weeks pregnant with a third. Wilhite said there are no signs that the other children were abused. They are in custody of the Department of Human Services.

While executing a search warrant in connection with the child’s death, a massive puppy breeding operation was discovered at the Barretos' home at 824 County Road 87 near New Albany.

Nearly 200 dogs and 25 cats were found crammed into 67 cages behind the home. The puppies were being sold through online classified ads on sites like Usfreeads.com.

Animal cruelty charges are also expected to be filed against the couple.

Contact Danza Johnson at 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

2008 May 23