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Mother of eight charged with manslaughter for baby's death

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 by Krystal Paco

Guam - Manslaughter as a first degree felony. This is the charge against 32-year-old Melenie Borja.     

The mother of eight was arrested on Thursday after the death of her youngest child, 2-month-old Joziyah, was ruled a result of child abuse by neglect.

No baby formula. Only two diapers. And a "smoking room" filled with drug paraphernlia. That's what authorities uncovered following a search of a Dededo home along Chalan Lamasu in Machanao - the home of Melenie Borja and her eight children.

The search warrant was executed following the death of the Borja's youngest child, 2-month-old Joziyah. Last Wednesday, Joziyah was brought into the Guam Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after.

According to court documents, Borja stated that the night before, she fed the baby Enfamil at eight and again at midnight. When she awoke the next day, she found Joziyah's body lifeless and cold to the touch prompting her to ask neighbors for a phone to call 911. Medics observed the baby appeared malnourished, weighing only 6.6 pounds and had sores on his head and face. According to an autopsy conducted by the island's chief medical examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola, the baby had in fact died from malnutrition and ruled the death as homicide by omission.

Joziyah's passing prompted authorities to search the home which child protective services deemed not conducive for the children to live in evident by the house's foul odor, cockroaches in the kitchen, and various drug paraphernalia specific to crystal methamphetamine.

Interviews were also conducted with various family, friends, and the other children of the household. According to Borja's mother, Rose Villagomez, she had not seen Joziyah since he was born and did not know if Borja was hiding him from her. Borja's grandmother, Irene Capulong also stated she had been assisting the family by doing laundry and bringing food for the children. Capulong did note that she never saw Joziyah's body because he was always wrapped in a blanket or clothing every time she saw him.

In an interview with Rolly Nicolas, who Borja reported was Joziyah's father, he states he had smoked ice with Borja prior to her getting pregnant. He informed police that he had lived with Borja for a couple of days and ended the relationship because on multiple occasions she'd spend hours in the bedroom with different men.

In a interview with Borja yesterday, she told police that Joziyah was born skinny and had lost weight over time. She also stated that she struggled to care for the children because she had no job, no ride, and was a single mother. She did, however, receive food stamps amounting $1350, but did not receive any other government assistance. As for the drugs found in her home, she denies any of the items belong to her.

But the most chilling interviews come from Borja's children. The oldest, ages 13 and 10 report they cared for their siblings most of the time while their mother spent most of her time sleeping or spending time in the bedroom with her male house guests - as many as three to five others at the same time, behind closed doors.

The children also reported they witnessed their mother "spank" Joziyah and the children using a slipper and belt. That's on top of seeing their mother shake and yell at their baby brother to stop crying.

KUAM spoke with Borja's neighbors today who state they know little about the family because they rarely came out of their house. They did note that Borja would on occasion, ask to use their phone.

During Borja's magistrate's hearing Friday morning, Borja struggled to hold back her tears as she was charged with manslaughter as a first degree felony.

Borja is being held behind bars on $25,000 cash bail and ordered to have no contact with any of her children or any minors.

Her next court appearance is slated for October 13th.
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