Bond re­duced for mother of kids who died in fire

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Local - By Wayne K. Rous­tan South Florida Sun Sen­tinel

A 22-year-old woman fac­ing two charges of ag­gra­vated man­slaugh­ter of a child in the deaths of her two young daugh­ters in a fire made her first court ap­pear­ance Satur­day morn­ing be­fore a sym­pa­thetic judge.

“This is ab­so­lutely hor­rific what hap­pened to these two chil­dren,” said Broward Judge Joseph A. Mur­phy. “It’s the worst tragedy that could be­fall a fam­ily.”

Jeny Yos­selin Me­len­dez-Ramirez stood silent and mo­tion­less for the en­tire four min­utes of her bond hear­ing at 10 a.m., al­most Me­len­dezRamirez Food­Town cus­tomers se­lect live crabs in the very pop­u­lar seafood depart­ment. Food­town has been in Davie for 11 years, owned by an In­dian fam­ily and in­de­pen­dent of the su­per­mar­ket chain in the North­east with the same name (and the catchy ad jin­gle known to New York­ers of a cer­tain age). The seafood counter at Food­town in Davie fea­tures a dizzy­ing ar­ray of fish and shell­fish.

ex­actly a week to the hour that she learned her chil­dren Sofia Me­len­dez, 5, and Abi­gail Espinoza, 5 months, died when their third-floor apart­ment caught fire in Pom­pano Beach.

The state at­tor­ney rec­om­mended bonds of $150,000 on each charge.

Call­ing the case a “hor­ri­ble, hor­ri­ble tragedy,” the judge asked, “Why $150,000 per count?”

The state pointed to the de­tails of the ar­rest re­port that in­di­cated Me­len­dezRamirez told Broward sher­iff’s de­tec­tives she went to work Oct. 13 and left her sis­ter Saydi Me­len­dez, 16, baby-sit­ting her two daugh­ters, as well as her 2-year-old son.

But Saydi Me­len­dez told de­tec­tives that her sis­ter told her to go to Wal­mart with the boy to get baby food, which meant leav­ing the two girls in the apart­ment unat­tended.

“The court is set­ting bond at $10,000 count one,

$10,000 count two [and or­der­ing] no con­tact with the fam­ily, and the court will give GPS mon­i­tor­ing as re­quested by the state,” Mur­phy ruled.

Neigh­bors at the Banyan Club apart­ments at 1830 N.E. 48th St. called 911 about

9:30 a.m. af­ter see­ing smoke com­ing from apart­ment 314. Fire­fight­ers doused the flames, then found the bodies of the two girls in­side a bed­room, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said.

Sher­iff’s de­tec­tives and spe­cial agents with Home­land Se­cu­rity In­ves­ti­ga­tions ar­rested Me­len­dez-Ramirez dur­ing a traf­fic stop off West McNab Road in Pom­pano Beach on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Saydi Me­len­dez and the 2-year-old boy were placed in state cus­tody.

The cause of the fire was still be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

TAIMY AL­VAREZ/SUN SEN­TINEL

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