Defendants Wait Years For Trials In Liberty County - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Defendants Wait Years For Trials In Liberty County


It's almost as if Martina Sellers wants to start digging in the dirt where her baby daughter is buried.

"I really can't believe she lies under here," Martina said. "I just want to pick her up and hold her."

Although baby Brooke has been dead for almost three years, her mother surrounds herself with constant reminders of a much too short life.

"This is our little memorial we go to whenever we want to cry or just come in here and think about her," Martina said.

Martina is not just a grieving mother. She's a criminal defendant awaiting trial. She's spent almost five years facing felony charges accusing her of shaking or striking her baby.

"Until this is over I can't get past it," Martina said.

Brooke Glen Nugent was born in August of 2005. She was just a few months old when Martina said she arrived home from work to find Brooke barely breathing. She said the baby was being watched by her father Gerald Nugent Jr. Indictments accuse both parents of intentionally harming the baby.

"Wrapped her in a blanket picked her up put her in the car seat and she was stiff," Martina said.

Brooke suffered three skull fractures, two broken ribs, a chipped femur bone and a broken toe. After spending about a year and a half in the hospital Brooke died in November of 2007.

"It just broke my heart to think someone could do something to such an innocent child who couldn't defend herself," Martina said.

In March of 2006, almost five years ago, Gerald Nugent, Brooke's father and Martina were both charged in connection with Brooke's death.

"I believe you’re guilty until proven innocent," Martina said.

Based on websites and blogs, a lot of people in Liberty have already convicted Martina, calling her names like “baby killer.”

"I feel like I can't even leave my house," Martina said.

"She's been afraid to come back to this city," Martina's attorney Katherine Scardino said.

“There is another blog that says we need to save taxpayers money and just shoot her because she does not deserve the air she breathes," Martina said.

"Martina Sellers regardless of what those people think actually should have her case dismissed, she did nothing," Scardino said.

Scardino has spent years trying to get Martina's case dismissed but said the Liberty County D.A.'s office wont budge.

A video that was done by a CPS worker shortly after Brooke's battered body was taken to the hospital. The boy interviewed in the video is Martina's son Jonathan. He was there when Brooke was beaten. When the CPS worker asks what happened to his baby sister, the 5-year-old said:

"Gerald did it."

“And he tries to describe to the interviewer how it happened," Scardino said.

Through his attorney Gerald Nugent declined to comment. Even though the video was shot four and a half years ago, Scardino said the D.A.'s office didn't tell her about it until recently.

"Inexcusable," Scardino said. "That it got to me four and a half years later, inexcusable."

Scardino felt certain the boy's remarks on the video would lead to a dismissal. That didn't happen.

"My understanding in this county is that the district attorney doesn't dismiss cases," Scardino said.

Liberty County D.A. Mike Little declined an on-camera interview, but said his office does dismiss cases if that's what justice demands. When we asked how often that happens, the D.A. told us he didn't know; his office doesn't keep track of that.

FOX 26 Investigates discovered 165 felony defendants have waited three years or longer for their cases to go to trial. Some of those cases date back to the 1990's.

"I have no heart. My heart has been ripped out completely," Martina said.

Recently the D.A's office upgraded Martina and Gerald Nugent's charges to felony murder. Those charges accuse both parents of striking and shaking Brooke.

Any kind of plea agreement for Martina seems out of the question.

"I know she can't stand in front of a judge cause she'd have to pled guilty," Scardino said. "She's not going to do that because I know she didn't do it."

Even if a jury agrees, Martina knows that won’t stop some people from calling her a baby killer.

"I will be there with her in heaven one day," Martina said. And that's what keeps me at peace."

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