Criminal liability studied in death of 2-year-old girl

March 13, 1992|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms said last night that he has asked for a review of city housing files to determine whether anyone is criminally liable for the carbon monoxide poisoning that killed a 2-year-old girl in her Patterson Park Avenue home Tuesday.

But Mr. Simms said he doubted that criminal charges would be brought in connection with the death of the child, Tiera Monet Moyd.

"It concerns me when there's loss of life that could have been prevented, especially if someone didn't take into account the needs of a young family," Mr. Simms said.

"But it's arguable if any of the conduct in this case is criminal," he said.

Mr. Simms said housing officials had still not been able to make contact with the landlord, Zelick A. Gresser. Mr. Gresser, who officials said last year owned 771 rental units in the city, has eluded authorities since Tuesday.

Housing officials said they ordered Mr. Gresser on Feb. 14 not to rent the Patterson Park Avenue house until after they reinspected it. They also said their only enforcement power was to impose a $500 fine in a case where such an order is ignored.

The child was found dead and her mother, Tracy Barnett, 21, was found unconscious and seriously ill after a faulty furnace poisoned the air of the rowhouse in the 1900 block of North Patterson Park Avenue.

Ms. Barnett was released from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center yesterday.

Housing officials and a representative of the state's attorney are trying to determine if a rental agreement had been signed or whether the family of three had moved into the house under a verbal agreement, Mr. Simms said.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. officials said the faulty furnace, which was connected to a clogged chimney, was tagged as out of service shortly before the family moved in last week.

The child's father, Kenneth Moyd, discovered Ms. Barnett and their daughter on the floor of an upstairs bedroom, police said. Earlier in the day, he had told Ms. Barnett that the landlord was going to send a repairman to fix the furnace.

Bill Toohey, a spokesman for the city Department of Housing and Community Development, said yesterday that the identity of the person who worked on the furnace was still not known.

Under city codes, only a licensed worker should have been doing work on the furnace, Mr. Toohey said.

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