Greenbelt, Maryland - A nanny convicted of murder for force-feeding a baby milk was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Oluremi Adeleye, 73, was found guilty of child abuse and second-degree murder in February after a week-long trial in which prosecutors argued that the nanny unscrewed the lid of a baby bottle and poured nearly eight ounces of milk down 8-month-old Enita Salubi's throat.
"Please forgive me," Adeleye said after she fell on her knees in court Friday. "I didn't mean to kill your child."
Adeleye, a native of Nigeria who lived in Glenarden, Maryland, testified in her own defense at her trial. She said she was "cup feeding" the baby to ensure it didn't go hungry, a custom in her home country. She and her attorneys said she didn't mean to hurt the child and that Entia's death was a "tragic accident." Adeleye had others testify in her defense, saying that cup feeding - pouring liquid in one's hand to feed a child when they don't want to eat but need to be fed - was common in Nigeria.
"While I don't find the defendant is an evil-intentioned baby slayer, I also don't find her actions were accidental," Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge Karen Mason said before handing down the sentence.
The child, who also lived in Glenarden, had roused the nanny from a nap, and the girl essentially drowned in milk while in Adeleye's care on Oct. 24, 2016, prosecutors said at trial. Video from the incident captured on a nanny camera showed the baby bouncing in a walker and patting Adeleye's leg while the nanny was on the couch. Adeleye is then seen trying to give the child a bottle. After the child doesn't take the bottle, Adeleye removes the lid of the bottle and tips it to the baby's face. The contents disappeared in less than 30 seconds as the child squirms in Adeleye's arms and then falls to the ground, the video shows.
Salibi's mother, Nikia Porter said at the sentencing that she moved from the Southside of Chicago to escape gun violence that could put her family in danger.
"I didn't want to lose my child to a stray bullet," Porter said, remembering her "silly" and "loving" baby. "I lost her to a formula."
Adeleye, initially charged under her married name of Oluremi Oyindasola, opted for a bench trial, in which a judge weighed her fate instead of a jury. In finding Adeleye guilty of all the charges against her, Mason said Adeleye lied to homicide detectives in recorded interviews about whether she unscrewed the cap of the bottle to feed the child. The shifting story, Mason said, demonstrated a "consciousness of guilt."
"She deserved to grow up," Prince George's County State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy said of the child who would have turned 3 this year. "She deserved to have a life to fulfill her dreams."
The death of Enita continues to haunt her family, including her two siblings, who were in the room when their younger sister was killed. They continue to ask where their sister is and when she is coming home.
"'Oh she's in heaven?'" Porter said her two children ask regularly. "'Can we go to heaven?'"
The Washington Post