UPPER MARLBORO — A former nanny was sentenced to 40 years in prison with all but 15 years suspended and five years probation upon release for killing an eight-month-old baby on the job at a sentencing hearing on May 3.
On October 2016, Oluremi Adeleye, 73, was babysitting Enita Salubi and her two siblings, who were two and three at the time she was caught on video pouring eight ounces of milk down the baby’s throat in less than 30 seconds. The child went limp in her arms and later died.
Judge Karen Mason, who oversaw the case at Friday’s sentencing hearing, found Adeleye guilty of second-degree murder and first and second-degree child abuse.
“This is a heartbreaking case. This family is still in mourning,” said State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy in a statement following the sentencing. “No one expects to leave their healthy baby home and return from work to find that child dead. We are pleased that the family had the foresight to have the video camera in place because that played a key role in getting justice for their baby.”
Nakia Porter, Enita’s mother, said during the hearing that her daughter’s birth was special to her because she was born on Porter’s sister’s birthday. Since her mother had died not long before, it gave her back a part of her mom that she had lost.
“When I lost Enita, I lost a part of my mother that I was holding onto,” Porter said.
Porter said she moved from the south side of Chicago where she was used to seeing people die from stray bullets and people holding signs saying “don’t shoot.” When she graduated from college, she had the chance to move back to Chicago, but instead, she opted to move to protect her children from stray bullets. Instead, she ended up losing her child to baby formula.
“Never in a billion years did I think I would be standing here,” she said.
On the day it happened, Porter said she had gotten a phone call while she was at work and after driving through traffic, she arrived at the hospital where the doctors told her her baby was not going to make it. She then had to bury her eight-month-old infant and explain to her two and three-year-old children, who were in the room when the tragedy happened, why their sister was not coming back.
“After the death of Enita, I was devastated, I was hurt, I was confused,” Porter said.
Enita’s father, Influence Salubi, and several other family members also had a chance to testify on how the situation has affected them since the death of their child.
“When I heard of this tragedy, it broke my heart,” said Sonja Sutton Frazier, the mother of Enita’s godmother. “I cannot imagine anyone executing an awful act like this…I still don’t understand how and why this happened.”
Sutton Frazier said she is still trying to grapple with what happened and the fact that she will not be able to watch Enita grow up. The event has been such a travesty in her life that she can only imagine what Porter has been going through.
She said she didn’t believe that Adeleye’s actions were not intentional. “You don’t harm children…you don’t,” she said.
Adeleye’s family members had a chance to testify as well. Her son tearfully told the judge about how he had also lost a child and knows what it feels like emotionally. He said that his mother is not a murderer and never meant to harm the baby.
The defendant’s attorney also emphasized that it was not Adeleye’s intention to hurt the baby. The 70-year-old woman had “never been in trouble a day in her life” and never done anything to violate the law, he said. He called the 40-year sentence and five-year probation “ridiculous.”
However, the attorney for Enita’s family called the act “horrendous” and her not initially telling the family what had happened was “self-preservation” as she could have cared less about the child and the trust of the family.
“This is a homicide,” the attorney said. “Homicide of an eight-month-old baby.”
Adeleye said through an interpreter that it was not her intention to kill the child. She said that everyone that knows her knows what happened that day and that it was an accident. She loves children, and she never disciplined the Salubi children.
“I didn’t want to kill anyone’s child,” she said. “Please forgive me.”
However, after considering the testimony and the letters that family members sent in, Mason said she did not feel that the defendant is “an evil-intentioned baby slayer,” but she also did not think that the act Adeleye’s committed was accidental.
The court did not find that Adeleye’s intention was to kill, but her actions resulted in the death of the child. Mason said that Adeleye knew or should have known that her actions would cause harm or death.