By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Nineteen-year-old Marainna Torres was sentenced today to 20 years in prison, with 15 years suspended on good conduct, leaving 5 years to serve and credit for time served in the death of her 2-year-old adoptive sister.
It means she is sentenced to a little more than three years in prison.
Circuit Judge Andrew Howorth pronounced his decision during the 1 p.m. hearing in the Lafayette County Courthouse.
The child, Ena Barreto, died May 19, 2008, in a Memphis hospital from injuries to her head and torso.
On July 2, 2008, Torres admitted she lost control emotionally, struck the child and threw her into a baby bed at their rural Union County home.
She has been held in the Union County Jail for nearly two years, awaiting the trial of her stepfather and mother, Ramon and Janet Lee Killough Barreto.
She was expected to be a key prosecution witness.
But the Barretos disappeared nearly a year ago as they faced 10 criminal counts – six on child endangerment, three on felony child abuse and one of manslaughter by culpable negligence.
A Union County grand jury accused them of forcing Torres to care for their seven adopted children, most under the age of 3, without proper training or support, which contributed to her fatally injuring one of them.
Pontotoc attorney Tim Tucker represented Torres, who spent her 18th and 19th birthdays in jail.
District Attorney Ben Creekmore represented the state and made the sentence recommendation to Howorth.
Torres was 17 when Ena died and 2008 reports say she was practically a servant in her County Road 87 home, forced to take care of the many young children the Barretos adopted from Guatemala.
Authorities continue to search for the Barretos, who were scheduled for trial in March 2009.
Out on $450,000 bond each, they apparently left the county before Janet Barreto was to be arraigned on another charge – witness tampering – after she allegedly called Torres in jail and demanded she recant or lie about how the child died.
They are believed to be in Mexico, where Ramon has family.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more in Friday’s NEMS Daily Journal.