Two women pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of child endangerment a week after an 8-year-old was found dead in their apartment from severe malnutrition and an untreated broken leg and her injured and emaciated siblings were removed alive.
The children’s 30-year-old mother, Venette Ovilde, stared blankly and answered a judge’s questions in a barely audible whisper as she entered her plea through a court-appointed attorney. She remains held on $500,000 bail on aggravated manslaughter and child endangerment charges.
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Her 23-year-old roommate, Myriam Janvier, also pleaded not guilty through a court-appointed attorney to child endangerment charges. Her bail was continued at $100,000.
Christiana Glenn died May 22 from severe malnutrition and a fractured femur that authorities said had never been treated. Her 7-year-old sister and 6-year-old brother remained hospitalized for treatment of malnutrition and other injuries after being removed from Ovilde’s Irvington apartment. […]
The women, who were both born in Haiti but came to the U.S. at a young age, radically altered their lifestyles about two years ago when they came under the sway of a man they described as their religious leader, according to friends and acquaintances.
While Janvier was dressed in green prison garb, Ovilde appeared in an all-white dress suit, clothing eerily similar to the bleached garments and robes worn by members of the “Walking With Christ” religious sect she joined three years ago.
Ovilde’s attire caught the attention of relatives in the gallery who say the faith caused a sudden shift in Ovilde’s personality and may have played a role in Christiana’s death. […]
Talk of the unorthodox faith hovered in the courtroom Wednesday, as Ovilde was introduced as Krisla Rezireksyon Kris, the same last name of the pastor who relatives say led a small congregation inside her Irvington apartment. The pastor, Emanyel Rezireksyon Kris, ordered his followers to fast extensively, to cut contact with their families and told them not to attend school or hold a job, relatives have said.
The fasting rules were so extreme that Rezireksyon Kris told members of his congregation not to swallow their own saliva, referring to it as “poison,” said Marie Charles, Janvier’s cousin.
Ovilde told Fields the pastor considered the swallowing of saliva a “sin” in violation of the faith’s fasting rules.
Rezireksyon Kris has not been charged and authorities have not discussed his role, if any, in the criminal investigation. The case will move to a grand jury later this year, according to Neafsey.