Bond denied for baby sitter charged in 1-year-old’s death

Maria Mendez-Briones


SUMMERVILLE - Bond was denied Friday for the baby sitter charged in the death of 1-year-old Jeramy Marquez Castro.

Maria Mendez-Briones, 30, of 116 Jennings Drive, Summerville, is being held in the Dorchester County Detention Center on one count of homicide by child abuse. Only a circuit court judge can set bond on a homicide charge.

Dorchester County Sheriff’s investigators identified her as the infant’s baby sitter.

Evidence indicated she struck the victim in the head several times, which later caused his death, the sheriff’s office said.

Briones allegedly admitted to authorities that she abused the child. According to the affidavit, "the defendant admitted to punching the victim in the head with a closed fist numerous times and then laying him down for a nap, thus the manner and cause of death."

The boy, who would have celebrated his first birthday today, died Wednesday night of brain swelling as a result of being beaten, authorities said.

Late Wednesday, deputies, Dorchester County EMS and the Old Fort Fire Department were dispatched to a house on Jennings Drive where firefighters and paramedics administered advanced life support. The child was then rushed to Summerville Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 7:43 p.m.

The child had been dropped off at a caregiver’s at 11:30 a.m. that day.

At the time, the caregiver told authorities that she had put the toddler to bed at 3:30 p.m., and said that when she checked on him at 6 p.m. he was breathing and OK.

About 6:30 p.m., the mother called the caregiver and the caregiver told the child’s mother that he was unresponsive, Dorchester County Coroner Chris Nisbet. Nisbet said. The mother called 911 and summoned help, he said.

The case is the second suspicious death of a toddler in Dorchester County in as many months. On Jan. 8, 16-month-old Rowan Bracci of Ridgeville died of injuries inflicted by a blow or several blows to the head. Two people are charged with homicide by child abuse in that case.