Adoptive mother pleads guilty to murder as part of plea deal

Carmen Barahona pleaded guilty Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 [Image credit: David Ovalle - Miami Herald]

Just over 9 years after 10-year-old Nubia Barahona's chemical soaked body was found in the back of her father's pick-up truck along Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County, her adoptive mother, Carmen Barahona, 69, pleaded guilty to  first-degree murder and multiple counts of aggravated child abuse.  Her sentencing is to be deferred until after her cooperation with prosecution and testimony against her husband, 52-year-old Jorge Barahona.


“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,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.


The case concerning Nubia rocked the Department of Children & Families after it was revealed that school employees had repeatedly reported signs of abuse to the tip hotline, but it seemed as though nothing was ever done.  Eventually, Nubia and her twin brother Victor were pulled out of school.


Victor, who was found in the cab of the truck also covered in chemicals, was eventually awarded a $5 million settlement from the state.


According to Patch, Carmen stated in an earlier interview with investigators that the twins had been sexually abused by their biological father and so, had behavioral issues as a result.  She allegedly told them of one time that the children had begun poisoning their food with rat poison.


"We didn't know why we were getting sick. And so they told Jorge that they had put rat poison in our food, and that's why we were getting sick," Carmen is reported to have said. "She took him to where she had gotten the rat poison, which was at the corner of the dining room."


Carmen stated that Jorge became increasingly paranoid about the twins and would beat and bind them for long periods of time.


“Every day it seemed like he was getting more annoyed,” Carmen said. “He would get this glassy look in his eyes sometimes.”


"You think maybe being tied up in the bathtub all day, and having your dad have three-hour religious ceremonies with you trying to pray the devil out of you might cause you a little bit of stress," a detective asked the Carmen concerning Nubia evidently suffering from digestive issues that would cause vomiting at times.


While Carmen attempted to minimize her involvement in the abuse that the twins suffered, her own granddaughter filed a witness statement saying that she had seen Carmen and Jorge wrap a rope around Victor's neck and each pull an end “until he was about to faint.”


Joege's case is slated to begin in April and if convicted, he faces the death penalty.  He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.


Should Carmen not cooperate her sentencing will be determined by jury.  Presuming she cooperates, she faces life in prison.