The mother of the baby who died suffocating on clumping cereal was sentenced this morning to two years in jail, suspended for probation.

In sentencing Marissa J. Moore Brown, 21, of Warsaw, on the level 6 felony charge of neglect of a dependent, Kosciusko County Superior Court I Judge David Cates gave her two actual days of jail time credit and noted she had no prior criminal history and she accepted responsibility in the matter.

The standard rules and fees will apply to Brown’s probation, but she also must go to the Bowen Center and take its substance abuse program and be successful in it. She must pay for the Bowen Center program herself. Cates told her she can not take any drugs without a prescription, can’t consume alcohol and she will be subjected to random drug and alcohol testing.





Cates told the probation department that there is zero tolerance with Brown breaking the rules of her probation, and if she misses an appointment, fails a test or violates any other rule, he is to know about it immediately.

Brown also must pay $300 to Kosciusko County for the court-appointed legal counsel and the cost of the action.

“I hope you will be successful in the Bowen Center. Clean up,” he told her.

Brown pleaded guilty to the single charge without a plea agreement on Dec. 20.

On Oct. 30, 2017, Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department deputy Christopher Francis responded to an unresponsive infant at 4330 N. Old 15, Warsaw. When the officer arrived, medical personnel were providing medical attention to the infant, whose father was identified as Steven Brown in court documents.

The child, Elena Lanae Moore, 2 months, was taken to Kosciusko Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Steven and Marissa, who have since married, told the officer they were sleeping in the same bed as the infant and woke up to find her unresponsive. Officers investigated the area where the girl was and found a bottle that had the nipple cut to make it bigger. The bottle contained formula mixed with cereal in a thick paste.

Court documents say Marissa used cereal to thicken the formula because the nipple was torn. The cereal helped stop the formula from pouring out easily. Marissa said the nipple was torn by a cleaning brush and nipples are expensive so she had not been able to buy a new one. Marissa said she had been putting cereal in the bottle for a week, and she wouldn’t have had to put cereal in the bottle if the nipple had not been torn.

Marissa said a doctor never told her to mix cereal with the formula, she just did it on her own.

A Northwest Indiana Forensic Center pathologist found the child’s cause of death was “aspiration of food and unsafe sleeping,” according to court documents.

Marissa was arrested Dec. 30, 2017, for neglect of a dependent.

In court this morning, Brown’s attorney, Dana Leon, noted that the Kosciusko County Community Corrections had no objection to Brown’s employment being as a homemaker as long as her fees are paid.

Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz said the infant’s death was tragic and that she died from suffocation due to cereal clumping in her airway.

He said at the time Brown also was the mother of three other children and was using illegal drugs. “At the time, using drugs was more important to her than the safety of her child,” he said.

Leon noted that most people in the courtroom agreed with Voelz’s statements. She said Brown has thrown herself at the mercy of the court and pleaded guilty without a plea agreement. She said there’s no greater remorse and sorrow than what Brown has dealt with over the last 1-1/2 years. She made choices that she regrets.

Brown has several other children, including an infant, and taking care of them is her job, Leon said. She noted Brown has family support, who were in the court room, and Brown wouldn’t respond well to incarceration. Incarceration also wouldn’t fix any problem in this case, Leon said. She has since done better and that will continue.

Asked by Cates if she had any comments, Brown, in tears, said her daughter’s death was the wake-up call she needed. She needs to continue to take care of her other children, and she needs them as much as they need her. She promised to do a better job.