Attorney: Sibling responsible for two-year-old's death - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Andrew Douglas

Attorney: Sibling responsible for two-year-old's death

Investigators in Union County, Mississippi say a couple forced a two-year-old girl and eight others to live in a feces-infested home, all while running a puppy mill in the backyard.

After the young girl died, prosecutors were prepared to charge her parents with capital murder, but Wednesday night, Action News 5 learned an adopted sibling may be to blame for the death.

Immigration and customs agents gathered evidence inside the home of Ramon and Janet Baretto on Wednesday, trying to find out if the couple legally adopted seven children, most of whom came from Latin America.

"We're getting tons of information, especially about their travels to Guatemala and where these children came from," Union County Sheriff Tommy Wilhite said.

One of those adopted children, a two-year-old girl, died Sunday at Le Bohneur Children's Medical Center in Memphis.  Detectives said the girl's injuries suggest it was homicide, but the couple's attorney, Tony Farese, insists they didn't kill her.

"A 17-year-old sibling caused these injuries," he said.

Farese says Janet Baretto is eight weeks pregnant, and was coming home with her family from a doctor's visit in Memphis when the 17-year-old daughter took charge inside their New Albany home.

"She had the two-year-old with her," Farese said. "I think the investigation will show that the injuries sustained by the two-year-old were sustained while she was in the physical custody and care of the 17-year-old."

As for the dogs and cats, animal shelter workers removed only nursing mothers, puppies and kittens Wednesday.  More than 170 dogs and cats remain at the home as workers continue to evaluate their condition.

Click here to send an email to Andrew Douglas.

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