Mom accused of playing music, cleaning when toddlers drowned in bathtub

Miya Shay Image
Monday, May 11, 2015
Mother arrested for twins' drowning
The woman's attorney says it wasn't necessary to arrest her on Mother's Day

PEARLAND, TX (KTRK) -- A Pearland mother is out of jail, after being arrested on Mother's Day for the deaths of her two 15-month-old daughters last February, though her attorneys say she shouldn't have been arrested at all.

In exclusive video obtained by ABC-13, we see how the arrest of Barbara Ramirez-Sifuentes occurred. Precinct 8 Deputy Constables pulled over a white van in the Pearland area. They informed the 21-year-old mother that she is charged in the death of her twin girls. In the video, as Ramirez-Sifuentes was led away in handcuffs, she appeared to smile broadly.

"They're saying she was reckless by leaving the children in the bath," said her attorney Stan Schneider, who disagrees. Schneider paints a picture of a woman who loved her children, showcasing them proudly on her Facebook profile picture.

"The family's been grieving, and this is Mother's Day. It's just a horrible accident. And this is what happens sometimes when accidents occur," said Schneider.

The young mom, known to some as Barbara Russo, is facing two counts of manslaughter charges after investigators determined she "recklessly caused the deaths" of Sabrina and Savanna Russo by leaving them in the bathtub with the water running while she cleaned and played music in another room.

To this day, attorneys say she still has the full support of her husband, John Russo.

"He supports Barbara completely," says Romy Kaplan, who represents husband John. "She's a loving, and a wonderful mother to John and their children. She's supportive in every way."

Ramirez-Sifuentes was arrested Sunday after authorities put out an alert known as a "be on the lookout" for the woman and her white minivan. Officials with the Harris County Toll Road Authority tracked her down hours later after a license plate recognition program spotted the minivan driving east on the Sam Houston Parkway. But her attorney says she would have turned herself in if given the opportunity to do so.

"We've been waiting. And we would gladly walked in and surrendered. All it takes is a phone call," said Schneider. He added that Ramirez-Sifuentes, who is out on bail, will plead not guilty to the charges.