The older child could get an 11-year sentence; prosecutors face questions of overreacting

By Jeff Truesdell
September 11, 2012 06:10 PM
Nicole Greenaway/AP

It’s every parent’s nightmare: Nicole Greenaway left her 3-month-old daughter with a babysitter overnight. Around 1:45 in the morning, she received a call saying the baby wasn’t breathing. Doctors later pronounced the child dead.

How did this happen? In a shocking twist to a tragic tale, prosecutors are blaming her death on another child – the babysitter’s 10-year-old daughter.

The unnamed older girl now faces manslaughter charges in the death of little Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway. The case is generating controversy and tough questions about blame, who should decide the outcome – the criminal courts or mental health experts – and whether the young defendant can even be judged competent to stand trial.

“We are not even talking adolescent. We are talking prepubescent,” attorney Walter McKee, who is not involved in the case, tells the local newspaper Maine Today.

Greenaway had previously trusted a co-worker, Amanda Huard, to babysit her kids, and did so again when she left Brooklyn and her 2-year-old sister at Huard’s Fairfield, Maine, home overnight in July. But Greenaway says she did not want the sitter’s daughter put in charge of the baby.

“My concern was that she was only 10,” Greenaway tells the Maine Sun Journal. “She did like to hold her a lot, feed her, change her diapers and stuff, and I was fine with that, as long as she wasn’t left alone.”

But according to Greenaway, the sitter broke that trust, placing the baby’s playpen bassinet in the older girl’s room for the night.

Nicole Greenaway

After the frantic call from Huard saying that Brooklyn wasn’t breathing, the race to the hospital ended with doctors telling Greenaway her daughter didn’t survive. Later, the medical examiner ruled Brooklyn’s death was caused by suffocation, her mother was told. Greenaway also says she could see a black eye and bruises on Brooklyn’s face.

Greenaway also was told that toxicology tests revealed evidence of amphetamines in her daughter’s system that matched the 10-year-old girl’s medication for attention deficit disorder.

Seven weeks later, on Aug. 30, prosecutors stunned many observers in announcing that the 10-year-old was charged with manslaughter. The girl, currently in state custody, is due in court in October. If found guilty as a juvenile she could face an 11-year sentence until she’s 21.

The girl’s attorney, John Martin, declined comment. “Given the nature of the case, I may remain quite close-lipped,” he tells the Morning Sentinel.

Huard herself has not been charged, and has not commented. But Nicole Greenaway believes Huard is at fault. Huard also has been reprimanded by a state Department of Health and Human Services caseworker who wrote that Brooklyn “died as a result of your neglect.”

That Aug. 10 report says Huard knew her daughter had “significant behavioral problems,” did not remove a “screaming” Brooklyn from her daughter’s care, and states the 10-year-old was not taking medication properly and “should not be babysitting children,” the Bangor Daily News reports.

“She needs to understand that she didn’t do everything she could to prevent it,” says Greenaway, in the Sun Journal interview. ” She didn’t check on her. She left her with a 10-year-old.”