Instead of buying formula for the 10-week-old baby they were babysitting, a Redmond couple spent their money on marijuana, according to King County prosecutors. They now face murder charges in the infant’s death.
Charging documents say Nina Perez, 20, and Michael Bernard, 24, had been tasked in February with watching the infant son of a friend while the child’s 17-year-old mother spent the week in California. The baby died on Feb. 17 from dehydration and malnutrition, according to the documents.
The mother told Redmond police that she had taken him to her friends’ apartment on Feb. 10, according to documents filed Friday in King County Superior Court. She had included clothes, diapers and five cans of formula, the documents say.
She told investigators her baby regularly consumed one can every three days, prosecutors say.
According to the documents charging Perez and Bernard with second-degree murder, they ran out of formula on Feb. 15 and asked the baby’s mother to send them money, but she had none to send.
The mother tried to arrange for an outreach worker to deliver formula for free, but Perez declined the offer because she “didn’t feel comfortable having anyone come to her home,” the documents say. Prosecutors say that with the mother’s approval, Perez decided to feed the baby applesauce and oatmeal.
Prosecutors say receipts show Bernard spent at least $75 on marijuana while he and Perez were caring for the infant. When asked by detectives why he did not purchase formula, he said, “We never got around to it,” police say.
“Instead of purchasing needed formula for the newborn, Perez and co-defendant Michael Bernard chose to spend their money on marijuana in the week the baby was in their care,” prosecutors wrote.
“Even as Perez documented the baby’s deteriorating health with pictures and video, she refused at least one offer of formula to be delivered to their home free of charge and chose not to access free resources within their own transitional housing complex that, among other things, keeps a stock of baby formula for residents in need.”
The night before the baby died, Perez took videos and picture of the listless, sick child lying in a “large puddle of yellow liquid diarrhea” and refused the plea of one of the baby’s relatives to call 911 after a video call in which the baby could be seen with blue lips, prosecutors say.
Perez and Bernard are in King County Correctional Facility on $1 million bail each. They are scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 19.