Sitter Who Let Baby Drown While on Facebook Shouldn’t Have Been Watching Kids

When a 9-month-old baby drowns in a bathtub because her babysitter was busy checking Facebook, you'd expect the woman to be sentenced to life in prison. But 20-year-old Mariah Berry received 15 years. With time off for good behavior, she could be out by the time she's 30. Still plenty of time to live a good life. The reason Berry got off relatively easy is because, as the judge said, Berry should have never been left in charge of children.


Berry is deaf. She is also schizophrenic and has an IQ of 65. She also reportedly had "multiple" personalities, and could often act like a 5-year-old, but most often a 12-year-old. A psychiatrist testified that Berry had post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression.

She bounced around from foster home to foster home, not getting adopted until she was 14. And then that adoption fell through. By all accounts, she had a terrible childhood.

But your childhood doesn't necessarily determine your fitness for watching children. But having such severe mental health issues probably should, especially if you most often act like a child when you're 20. Yet a 9-month-old and a 2-year-old were left in her care.

Berry told authorities she drew a bath for the children and left them alone to go play on Facebook. You wouldn't want to leave a baby and toddler alone in a tub for two minutes let alone over an hour, as Berry did.

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Berry didn't realize anything was wrong until the toddler waddled out saying, "Baby, baby." Because Berry was deaf she hadn't even heard that the toddler had managed to turn on the faucet, overflowing the tub. The baby drowned.

The judge said:

It's a tragic loss for the family of the child ... It's a tragedy what you had to endure as a child. You should never have been left in charge of the children.

Indeed not. Should she have even received 15 years in prison, given that this was a crime that wasn't intended? Given that she apparently didn't have the capacity to babysit children? If everything testified about her is true, it makes you wonder. The more I think about it, the more I think this is pretty harsh.

A terrible tragedy all around.

Did she deserve this much time in prison? Or should she get more?


Image via Seminole County Sheriff's Office

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