Mariah BerryI am a mother of two boys. Thankfully I didn’t have problems with finding a babysitter when I needed one. There was always my mother-in-law, or my parents or an Aunt available to watch them if I needed them, so I didn’t have to worry about having the person I was leaving my children with checked out. Although I was lucky not everyone is. Finding the right babysitter is not always so easy.

Unfortunately a family from Sanford, Florida chose the wrong babysitter. Their two small children, 8 month old Byron Molina-Rios Jr and his two year old sister were left in the care of the then 18 year old Mariah Berry on July 22, 2012. While in the family’s apartment located off Fox Quarry Lane in Sanford, Berry left the children in the bathtub and some reports say she was in another room talking on Facebook for over an hour. When she returned to check on the children she found that the two year old had turned on the faucet and the water was overflowing over the bath tub soaking the carpet in the adjoining room. She also found the baby in the tub face down. When the police arrived she admitted to them that she had left the two children alone unsupervised in the tub.

Berry was arrested and charged with aggravated child neglect and was held on a $4000 bond. At the time the baby’s condition had been listed in critical condition. After the rescuers tried to revive the boy he died later at the hospital after he spent several days on a respirator. Charges of aggravated manslaughter of a child were added against Berry also.

Reports are that Berry apparently is deaf and communicates by sign language. She had moved in with the family and she watched the children while the mother was at work.

Berry’s adoptive family, Tom and Susan Berry of Maitland wrote to the judge telling him that their daughter should be held accountable for her actions. They also said he should know that she by the time they had adopted her at the age of 14, she has already been in 30 foster homes and had been adopted previously but it failed. Her biological parents had subjected her to severe neglect and abuse and they were addicted to methamphetamine. They stated that since she had been living with them she exhibited multiple personalities and functioned overall on the level of a 12 to 13 year old. Susan Berry also claims that her daughter suffers from schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and she has an IQ of 80.

She said that Berry loves children but she can’t watch kids for any extended period of time because she doesn’t have the mental capacity to do that. She clearly stated, “There is no way in hell she should have been allowed to care for these kids.”

In June of 2014 a judge sentenced Berry to 15 years in prison. She had pleaded no contest to manslaughter in March even though the Assistant State attorney had asked for the lowest punishment of 14 years which is recommended by state sentencing guidelines but Circuit Judge John Galluzzo decided to go with the 15 years saying what happened was a tragedy and he had little recourse but to punish her for the baby’s death. When handing down her sentence he spoke directly to her saying, “It’s a tragic loss for the family of the child… it’s a tragedy what you had to endure as a child.” He also told her that she never should have been left in charge of those children, besides the 15 year sentence he ordered her to get mental-health treatment and hope that upon release she will not be a danger to others.

Yesterday, April 22, 2015 there was a change in Berry’s case, who is now 21. After a motion to dismiss the charges against Mariah Berry based on “intellectual disability” was heard a Seminole County judge threw out the case. He decided to dismiss the case without prejudice.

Cheney-Mason-Vulgar-GestureAs I was reading this I was shocked but I have to admit I wasn’t surprised when I read who one of her attorney’s that was helping was. None other than Cheney Mason himself. For those of you that don’t know him, he is the one that flipped off the media, boasting with pride after he managed to get the infamous Casey Anthony off the murder charge when she was on trial for killing her two year old daughter. Strike up yet another win Mr. Finger, I mean Mason. I hope you are proud of yourself now. Another child’s death will go without justice being served.

My heart and prayer will go to this baby’s family, especially his big sister. She is the one that was scared with the ambulance and the fire department and the police at her home. She was only 2 years old, I can just imagine how scared this little girl was.

In closing though I have to wonder… What was this family thinking of by leaving this girl with their two babies to begin with?

Jan Barrett

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