FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — The father of a missing South Florida toddler who is presumed dead was back in court Wednesday.
Calvin Melvin is charged with lying to police.
His son, Dontrell Melvin, went missing in July 2011 but no one reported him missing until January 2013.
Calvin Melvin entered court Wednesday hoping his bond would be reduced and he could head home. His son, Dontrell, was missing for a year and a half before anyone reported it. Remains of a child, believed to be Dontrell, were found in the backyard of a home in the 100 block of NW 1st Avenue where the family once lived in Hallandale Beach. The child’s mom Brittney Sierra is also charged with neglect in the case.
Calvin Melvin’s mom, Annie Melvin, testified in court Wednesday that she does not have the money to post the huge bond her son is facing now.
“Do you have the $151,000 to post bond?” asked the judge. She replied, “I do not.”
At one point, the judge had Melvin’s family stand up to introduce themselves. They were in court to vouch for him. Melvin’s attorney argued that since child abuse charges were reduced to lying to police, the bond should be dropped by $148,000 to just $3,000.
The judge denied the motion.
His decision came after prosecutors argued murder charges could be filed once DNA evidence comes back to confirm that the remains found buried in the yard are that of Dontrell.
“Even if the child was murdered, who did that? There’s no evidence to suggest that Calvin did it. There’s nothing in his past to suggest that he’s capable of something like this,” argued Calvin’s defense attorney Ed Hoeg.
Hoeg also asked the judge to dismiss the lying charges because Melvin not only eventually told police the truth but he is the reason officers found the body.
“If he did make any contradictory statements, he came clean, he told the truth, that’s why they have a case,” explained Hoeg.
The attorney went on to say just because there was a body found does not mean that there was a murder or that Melvin is responsible. When asked why he did not report his child missing, Hoeg speculated it may have been love for the child’s mother.
“Have you ever been in love? Have you ever been in love? How do you know how long you would go? I don’t know if you can answer that question. If you’re in love and somebody tells you something and you want to protect them, I don’t know.”
The search for Dontrell began January 9th, 2013 when a worker with the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s Child Protective Investigations Section went to Melvin’s home after receiving a call to the DCF Child Abuse Hotline.
The caller reportedly said that Sierra smoked marijuana in front of three kids and would call them all kinds of nasty curse names. The caller also allegedly said there were a number of men who visited the house to do drugs and have sex with Sierra.
When the sheriff’s investigator went to the home, she noticed one of their three children was unaccounted for.
When asked where Dontrell was, Melvin told the investigator he had left the boy with his parents.
When questioned further, Melvin reportedly changed his story and said he dropped the boy off at fire station in Miami Gardens as part of the Safe Harbor statute. Police said Melvin later recanted the Safe Harbor story.
During police questioning, Melvin allegedly described a verbal argument he had gotten into with Sierra in July 2011 and left the home. When he returned 3 weeks later, Dontrell was gone, he told police.
Melvin told police that Sierra asked him not to ask him about the whereabouts of the child.