Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato today announced Robert S. Trella, 42, of Berkeley Township appeared before Judge Patricia B. Roe, J.S.C. this morning and was sentenced to three years in New Jersey State Prison. Trella had pled guilty to second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child for causing his 2 year old child to be an abused or neglected. The defendant was also ordered to have no contact with his other children unless ordered by Division of Child Protection and Permanency.

The sentencing stems from the tragic events of August 17, 2015, when Ptl. Alexander Houle, of the Berkeley Twp. Police Department, was dispatched to a residential area within the township for a report of a 9 year old girl running down the street stating that her 2 year old sister was missing. Ultimately, the child’s sister, a two year old female, identified as M.M, was located unresponsive in a neighboring swimming pool. M.M. was transported to Community Medical Center in Toms River where she was pronounced dead.

On January 20, 2016, Trella was arrested by Officers from the Berkeley Twp. Police Department in connection with the investigation into the drowning death. He has remained incarcerated since the time of his arrest on bail set at $150,000, no 10 percent.

Witnesses in the area advised police that M.M. had been seen wandering around the neighborhood unsupervised on prior occasions before her death. It was further revealed that M.M.’s 9 year sister assumed many of the care taking responsibilities for M.M.

The lead investigators in the case were Detective William Somers, Sergeant William Cullen and Patrolman Taylor Butler of Berkeley Twp, P.D, as well as, Sergeant Brian Haggerty of Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit. The Crime Scene Investigation Unit of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office also assisted in the investigation. Senior Assistant Prosecutor Christine Lento prosecuted the case.

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