MIAMI (AP) — A Florida woman pleaded guilty Friday in the torture death of her adopted 10-year-old daughter nine years ago in a deal handing her a life prison sentence in exchange for testimony against her husband.
Carmen Barahona, 69, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse charges in the death of Nubia Barahona. The girl’s body was found Feb. 14, 2011, soaked with chemicals in the back of her father’s truck along Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County.
The father, Jorge Barahona, 52, faces the death penalty if convicted in the girl’s death. Her twin brother, Victor, was also doused with chemicals but recovered and later told investigators about severe abuse in their Miami-area home.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement Friday that sentencing for Carmen Barahona will be deferred until she testifies against her husband as the agreement requires.
“By allowing her to enter her guilty plea today and assist in the prosecution of her husband, we are one step closer to helping the surviving child victim in this case see justice prevail for him and his deceased twin sister, Nubia,” Rundle said.
“If she fails in this requirement, she will be facing a sentencing hearing before a jury,” Rundle added.
The case roiled the state Department of Children & Families because despite numerous complains about abuse of the twins little was ever done. Eventually, the state paid Victor Barahona a $5 million settlement.
Authorities found that the children were kept bound in a bathtub for extended periods, often fed only bread and milk and were pulled out of a school after educators there raised concerns. The children were also beaten and starved at times.
Months after the killing, DCF announced it would spend more money to recruit and train investigators, reduce caseloads for child investigators and provide more staffing and resources to a child abuse hotline.
The twins originally were placed in the Barahona home under foster care, then were adopted.
The trial of Jorge Barahona is currently scheduled to begin in April. He has pleaded not guilty.
An earlier version of this report had an incorrect spelling of of Victor Barahona’s first name.