Time served after lo­cal in­fant dies

Port Repub­lic woman pleads guilty to ne­glect; does six months in jail

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By DANDAN ZOU dzou@somd­news.com

A Port Repub­lic woman was re­leased last week after serv­ing six months in jail for a child ne­glect con­vic­tion fol­low­ing her 4-month-old in­fant’s death last year.

Hol­lie Marie Brown, 32, was sen­tenced to five years in prison with all but six months sus­pended on Oct. 22 at the

cir­cuit court after she pleaded guilty to child ne­glect, which is a mis­de­meanor. Brown was re­leased after last week’s hear­ing for hav­ing served the sen­tence in pre-trial cus­tody since April.

Brown and David Robert Bur­ton, 35, were in­dicted by a grand jury in April for sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, man­slaugh­ter and ne­glect of a mi­nor in the death of their child Michael Bur­ton.

The state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice dis­missed the sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and man­slaugh­ter charges for Brown and Bur­ton ear­lier this month after one of the prose­cu­tion’s key med­i­cal ex­perts amended his opin­ion.

Be­cause of the change of ex­pert opin­ion, the prose­cu­tion was no longer able to sus­tain the gross neg­li­gence el­e­ment re­quired in sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and man­slaugh­ter charges, ac­cord­ing to Kathryn Marsh, former deputy state’s at­tor­ney and a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor for the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

“We be­lieve strongly that this was never a mur­der or man­slaugh­ter. Ms. Brown should never have been charged,” said Luke Woods, Brown’s lawyer from the pub­lic de­fender’s of­fice, by phone this week. “We are re­lieved that she has been re­leased to heal and grieve with her fam­ily.”

While the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice dropped the two felony charges, the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ued to pros­e­cute Brown and David Bur­ton for ne­glect of a mi­nor for sev­eral al­leged neg­li­gences, in­clud­ing not us­ing a ma­chine that mon­i­tors the baby’s breath­ing and not fill­ing his pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion.

Born pre­ma­turely on Oct. 27, 2016, Michael Bur­ton had breath­ing is­sues, and his con­di­tions re­quired an ap­nea ma­chine to alert the par­ents if he stopped breath­ing, Marsh said.

On Jan. 27, 2017, Marsh said Brown asked if they could stop us­ing the ma- chine be­cause it was too loud and was told by their pe­di­a­tri­cian that they could not dis­con­tinue the ma­chine un­til the in­fant was cleared by a pul­mo­nolo­gist.

About a month later, the in­fant was brought to the emer­gency room by a fam­ily friend due to wheez­ing and hav­ing dif­fi­culty breath­ing. He was hos­pi­tal­ized for bron­chi­oli­tis, a com­mon lung in­fec­tion in young chil­dren and in­fants that can lead to pneu­mo­nia.

Brown and David Bur­ton re­port­edly did not re­spond to the hospi­tal un­til the hospi­tal con­tacted po­lice for a wel­fare check, ac­cord­ing to Marsh.

When the in­fant was dis­charged March 2, 2017, he was pre­scribed al­buterol and pred­nisone, but the pre­scrip­tions were re­port­edly not filled. Marsh said the par­ents also did not use the ma­chine to mon­i­tor his breath­ing after he was re­leased from the hospi­tal.

On March 5, 2017, po­lice and paramedics re­sponded to a call and found Michael Bur­ton un­re­spon­sive and with­out a pulse. He was in­tu­bated after be­ing taken to Calvert-Health Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Prince Fred­er­ick and was later trans­ported to Chil­dren’s Na­tional Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Wash­ing­ton. Marsh said the in­fant never be­gan breath­ing on his own again and was removed from life sup­port ma­chines after he was found brain dead. Michael Bur­ton died on March 6, 2017.

Other than know­ing the in­fant suf­fered from bronchial pneu­mo­nia, Marsh said the cause and man­ner of his death were both “un­de­ter­mined” after the med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice con­ducted an au­topsy.

A re­view of the in­fant’s med­i­cal record, how­ever, showed the par­ents did not use the ma­chine, which would have alerted them when his breath­ing pat­tern changed prior to when he stopped breath­ing, and that they re­port­edly smoked in their bed­room where the in­fant slept, ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tor.

In ad­di­tion to the child ne­glect con­vic­tion, Brown was found guilty of pos­sess­ing drug para­pher­na­lia Dec. 1, 2017, for a March 2017 of­fense in Calvert and was given two years of un­su­per­vised pro­ba­tion. She also pleaded guilty to pos­sess­ing more than 10 grams of mar­i­juana for an Aug. 15 of­fense in An­napo­lis and was placed on one year of pro­ba­tion. The An­napo­lis case has since been re­opened due to her vi­o­la­tion of pro­ba­tion fol­low­ing her in­dict­ment.

For the child ne­glect con­vic­tion, Calvert Cir­cuit Judge Mark Chan­dlee placed Brown on five years of su­per­vised pro­ba­tion upon her re­lease.

A plea hear­ing for David Bur­ton is sched­uled for Nov. 15 in cir­cuit court.

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