West Hempstead
Mom charged in baby's death
Cops say she left 6-month-old alone in parked car for three hours


October 6, 2004, 8:12 PM EDT

A West Hempstead woman was arrested Wednesday and charged with causing the death of her 6-month-old daughter, who died from hyperthermia and dehydration in April after being left alone in a parked car for three hours, Nassau police said.

Yesenia Brito, 21, of 837 Roosevelt St., was charged with second-degree manslaughter. An investigation revealed that she had lied to police on April 19 when she told them that her daughter, Jada Bowman, was under the care of a baby-sitter when she returned from work that day and found the child unresponsive, police said.

Brito, a single mother, worked in a Floral Park pediatric office. That day, she took her daughter to her work to see the doctor for a routine appointment, said Det. Lt. Dennis Farrell, commanding officer of the Homicide Squad. The baby was said to have been in good health, and after the appointment, Brito left the office, fed the baby and then returned to work, Farrell said.

About 3 p.m., Brito left work and but came back not long after with her unresponsive baby. Doctors at the office attempted to revive the child and called 911. Both the Floral Park police and fire department responded and transported the baby to Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, where she was pronounced dead about 4 p.m.

At the time, Brito told police that she had driven from work to her West Hempstead home, spoke with the baby-sitter briefly and then discovered the child unresponsive in her bedroom, Farrell said. Although Brito's home, where she lives with her parents, is not far from Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, she had said that she rushed the child to the pediatrician's office in Floral Park, Farrell said.

"Given that her home is a short distance from Mercy, it didn't seem feasible that she would drive that way," Farrell said.

After numerous interviews and an autopsy, Homicide Squad Det. James Cereghino concluded that the baby had not been left with the sitter that day, Farrell said. Brito left her daughter locked in her car parked near the doctor's office, with the windows closed and the doors locked, he said.

"It appears that as a direct result of being left in the car unattended that the child expired," Farrell said.

On April 19, the temperature at Kennedy Airport ranged between 70 and 75 degrees from noon to 3 p.m., according to the National Weather Service in Brookhaven.

Brito was arraigned in First District Court in Hempstead and ordered held on $150,000 bail, police said.

Her attorney, Joel Salinger, of Mineola, declined comment Wednesday night. Her family could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

But one neighbor, Leonard Winer, who lives two houses away from Brito, said he felt sorry for the single mother, who he has known since she was a child.

"A fellow took advantage of her, got her pregnant, then disappeared," said Winer, 82. "He made an appearance here when the baby died and I haven't seen him since."

Winer called Brito "one of the nicest on the block," and said he finds it hard to believe she would neglect her baby.

"You have to show me proof," he said.

Staff Writer Jennifer Sinco Kelleher contributed to this story.
Copyright 2004, Newsday, Inc.