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Parents charged with manslaughter in 2011 death of baby in Marshfield

Couple poisoned infant with opiates in formula bottle, authorities say

BROCKTON — The parents of a 5-month-old girl who died in 2011 have been charged with manslaughter for allegedly feeding her a bottle of formula laced with heroin.

Ryan J. Barry and Ashley Cyr, the parents of Mya Barry, pleaded not guilty today in Plymouth Superior Court. Cyr is also charged with reckless endangerment of a child.

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At the time of the baby’s death, the couple lived in Marshfield, but they now live in Quincy, where they were arrested without incident today, District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz’s office said.

Marshfield police were called to an apartment at Castle Green on Sept. 23, 2011, where they found a neighbor performing CPR on an unresponsive infant, later identified as Mya Barry, prosecutors said in a statement.

“The victim was observed to be cold to the touch, not breathing, with her pupils fixed and dilated,’’ prosecutors said in a statement. The baby was rushed to South Shore Medical Center in Weymouth, where she was pronounced dead.

Plymouth First Assistant District Attorney Frank Middleton said in court today that Barry has told police he prepared the bottle of formula that day but did not put heroin in it. Barry allegedly said he used bottled water to make the baby’s formula and that someone may have washed a dirty syringe in the bottled water.

Middleton said Cyr is facing charges because she allowed heroin into the bedroom, where the victim and her two small sisters, 3 and 4 years old, lived, along with a number of adult drug users.

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Eight people lived in squalid conditions in the 8-by-10-foot room, Middleton said.

Officers searched the apartment and discovered three grams of heroin and hypodermic needles on a shelf in the bedroom. They also discovered a bucket of syringes, some used and some not, near the bedroom, Middleton said.

“You’ve got heroin. You’ve got needles. You’ve got children,” Middleton said. “You’ve got a recipe for disaster.”

The state medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy, concluding in December that the baby died from opiate poisoning and that her cause of death was homicide.

Barry’s defense attorney, Liam Scully, however, said today that prosecutors do not know who put the heroin in the bottle. He said it wasn’t his client, who has been “personally destroyed” by his daughter’s death.

Cyr’s defense attorney, Bethany Rogers, did not challenge the government’s allegations. She declined to comment after the hearing, saying her boss, Quincy attorney Daniel O’Malley, has been handling the case.

Judge Raymond Geary set bail for each defendant at $200,000.

He said he believed both Barry and Cyr were living the “lifestyle of addiction and are controlled by addiction.”

“They do not, at this point, have control over their lives,” he said.

Cruz’s office, along with State and Marshfield police, launched a secret grand jury investigation after the child’s death. That grand jury returned manslaughter indictments Thursday.

Before today’s arraignment, Cruz said in an interview, “It’s an incredibly disturbing situation, something that needs to be dealt with.”

Asked why it took two years for criminal charges to surface, he said, “It’s been a very thorough investigation, and sometimes it takes time. That’s what happened here.”

It’s not the first time Barry has been in trouble with the law. According to Norfolk Superior Court records, he pleaded guilty in January 2006 to raping a child. He admitted he raped a girl under 16 after spending several hours consuming drugs and alcohol with her and her friends in Quincy in 2004.

He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in the Norfolk County House of Correction, and ordered to serve 15 months of that sentence and was placed on probation for three years, according to court records.

He also pleaded guilty last year to possession of heroin, according to court records.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.

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