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Smyrna Woman Indicted in Starvation Death of Teenage Daughter

The indictment was handed down March 28.

A Cobb County grand jury has indicted a Smyrna woman on murder charges in connection with the June 2012 starvation death of her mentally challenged teenage daughter.

The indictment alleges that Ebony Espree Berry, 36, of Smyrna, failed to provide adequate nutrition and medical care for Markea Berry, 16, said Kim Isaza, the spokeswoman for Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds.

It was the afternoon of June 15, 2012, when officers went to a home on Concord Road in reference to an unresponsive girl. Inside the home, they found Markea Berry's body. She weighed just 43 pounds.

It was not the first time Cobb police had come to the girl's aid. In 2010, when she was 14 years old, Markea Berry wandered away from home. At the time, police told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she functioned at a third grade level. She was found safe the next day at the Austell Walmart.

Throughout the last decade, child protection workers investigated Ebony Berry in Michigan and in Georgia. Mother and daughter lived in Grand Rapids, Mich., for a time.

An investigation of Markea Berry’s death revealed that Ebony Berry would often lock her daughter in a room with “pee pads,” like dog housetraining pads, and a urinal. Ebony Berry told Georgia Division of Family and Children Services caseworkers that her daughter acted out and would often open food and eat it while in stores.

Ebony Berry is charged with murder, felony murder, and two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree. If convicted on all charges, she could face a maximum sentence of life in prison plus 20 years.

Ebony Berry has been at the Cobb County Jail for the last 291 days, according to online jail records. She is being held on a $75,000 bond.

An arraignment date has not been set.

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