Charges reduced against woman whose son was found buried

Brittney Sierra charged with 2 counts of child neglect

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Broward State Attorney's Office reduced the charges faced by a woman whose son was found buried in the back yard of a Hallandale Beach home she rented with the boy's father.

Prosecutors downgraded the charges on Monday against Brittney Sierra from second-degree neglect for causing bodily harm to third-degree child neglect.

"It would be very difficult to prove the charges the way they were structured, and while I thought the charges should be completely done away with, she decided that she was going to try to pursue third-degree felonies," said her attorney, Harry Dohn Williams. "I never believed she was guilty."

Sierra, 22, will also be released from jail to give birth. She'll be placed on GPS monitoring and confined to the home of a woman who volunteered to take her in.

"I want to be there. I want to feel that baby move inside her. I can't wait to hug and hold my daughter and just kiss her and never let her go," said Sierra's mother, Renee Menendez. "And, yes, I can't wait for the birth of the baby. I know the state is going to take the baby but just those few moments that we have will mean the world to both of us."

The body of Sierra's son, Dontrell Melvin, was found Jan. 11. The infant was last seen alive 18 months before when he was 5 months old.

The Broward Medical Examiner ruled he likely died when he was 6 months old. According to the Hallandale Beach Police Department, a University of North Texas DNA analysis report found "genetic data are approximately 31.2 trillion times more likely to be observed under the scenario that the unidentified remains originated from a biological child of Brittney J. Sierra and Calvin Melvin Jr. as opposed to the unidentified remains originating from an unrelated individual from any of the three major U.S. population groups."

A Broward Sheriff's Office deputy discovered the boy was missing while investigating an unrelated child neglect case on Jan. 9.

The remains police found had blunt trauma injuries, according to Hallandale Beach police reports. But the reports indicate the injuries were caused by police officers during the recovery process.

Charges against Melvin weren't changed.

This article has corrected the spelling of Renee Menendez. We apologize for the error.