According to the criminal complaint, Carlotta Brett-Pierce—the mother arrested for assault after police found her four-year-old girl dead and weighing a scant 18 pounds—tied her daughter to her crib after she got up to get a midnight snack, and force-fed her sleeping pills to stop her "wild" behavior. Brooklyn prosecutor Tracey Downing said at the hearing, "The mother tied up the child because she would get up in the night and eat food...and make a mess." Witnesses also say Brett-Pierce beat her daughter with a belt and a "plastic video case."

Brett-Pierce's daughter, Marchella, was born prematurely weighing just over one pound, and suffered from underdeveloped lungs. However, the family has been monitored by the Administration for Children’s Services since November after Brett-Pierce's son was born with drugs in his system. Brett-Pierce attempted to explain the bruises on Marchella's body by saying she fell, but an autopsy revealed they were ligature marks from where Brett-Pierce tied her to her crib with twine.

Brett-Pierce is being held on $300,000 bail, but has not been charged with homicide. She is currently charged with charged with assault, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child. She also has drug charges against her after police found marijuana and cocaine in her purse. Some of her neighbors have said they're not surprised at the charges, and one said, "If she did do it, she gets everything she deserves. God is going to judge her anyway."