Struggling to hold back the tears, grandmother Renee Menendez spoke out for the first time since her daughter Brittney Sierra was arrested and charged in connection with the disappearance of her baby son Dontrell Melvin.
“She didn't hurt her child, she didn’t do this,” Menendez said.
She showed unconditional love and support to her 21-year-old daughter, who is accused of harming her own baby.
"She has a heart. She loves her kids,” Menendez said.
Dontrell, who was 5 months old when he was last seen around July 2011, wasn’t discovered missing until 18 months later. Skeletal remains that were found in the backyard of their former home in January were identified as his in March.
The medical examiner's office ruled the boy's manner of death as a homicide and the cause of death was violence of undetermined means.
Sierra faces a charge of child neglect with bodily harm in the disappearance. The boy’s father, Calvin Melvin, 27, faces two charges of child neglect and three charges of providing false information to police during the investigation of the disappearance.
Sierra and Melvin were back in court Thursday, this time facing a Broward judge over custody of their remaining children, who are currently in state custody.
Sierra is six months pregnant, according to Menendez.
"It’s not easy, she’s scared every day,” Menendez said. “She doesn't want to have a baby in jail."
Representatives from the Department of Children and Families, and the state attorney's office would not disclose Thursday’s proceedings, saying they were confidential.
But Menendez is fearful the state will take her grandchildren, including the one who has yet to be born.
"It hurts me more than anything, because they're tearing apart a family that loves each other very much,” she said.
Melvin is being held at the Broward County Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale on $158,300 bond, according to online jail records, while Sierra is being held at the facility in North Broward on $100,000 bond.
Authorities said Melvin and Sierra blamed each other in the boy’s disappearance and each provided officers an area to search.
Menendez can’t fathom the child neglect charge against her daughter.
"I’ve left her in charge of taking care (of) my kids and she's never hurt them, and she’s never hurt her own,” she said.
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