Bail denied for mother charged in girls' deaths

November 26, 1994|By Eric Siegel and William Thompson | Eric Siegel and William Thompson,Sun Staff Writers

A Baltimore judge denied bail yesterday to a mother accused of killing her two small girls by setting fire to their Canton rowhouse, while court records and interviews with those who knew the woman when she lived on the Eastern Shore provided new details of her past.

In a brief hearing in Eastside District Court, Judge Richard O. Motsay ordered that Renee Elizabeth Aulton continue to be held without bail and set a preliminary hearing for Dec. 23.

Thursday, a court commissioner denied bail to Ms. Aulton, who will remain held at the women's detention center. Responding to a question from Judge Motsay, Ms. Aulton, of the 2300 block of Fleet Street, said she wanted the court to provide her with a public defender.

The 26-year-old appeared with several other criminal defendants in different cases in a routine bail review hearing that lasted a total of 20 minutes.

Dressed in a white, pink and blue nylon jacket and jeans, she kept her head bowed during a good part of the proceedings.

At other times, she stared straight ahead behind owlish glasses or glanced with expression around the courtroom.

Ms. Aulton has confessed to police that she deliberately set the Nov.15 fire to kill daughters Christina Lambert, 4, and Natalie Aulton, 2, according to court papers filed Thursday. Police said yesterday that they would not release the text of her confession, made during questioning spread over six hours Wednesday.

Shortly after the end of the interrogation, police charged Ms. Aulton with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson -- charges that could carry the death penalty.

Sources familiar with the investigation say Ms. Aulton killed her daughters because she believed that her boyfriend was upset because one of them was racially mixed. In an interview late Wednesday, the man denied that was the case.

On the Eastern Shore, where she lived for several years, court BTC records show that in 1989 Ms. Aulton pleaded guilty to assault and battery in Talbot County Circuit Court for striking another woman in the back of the head.

Ms. Aulton received a verdict of probation before judgment and was placed on two years of supervised probation.

She was ordered to pay $235 in court costs and to perform 100 hours of community service but she did neither, records show.

At first, parole and probation officials let Ms. Aulton put off the community service requirement until after she gave birth on July 30, 1990, to Christina Lambert, the older of the two girls who died in the Baltimore fire.

But even after the child was born, Ms. Aulton failed to comply with her probation, telling officials she had financial problems because she was unemployed, could not find a baby sitter and had no way of getting to the recreation center where she was supposed to do her community service, located about a mile from her home.

In July 1991, Judge William S. Horne found Ms. Aulton guilty of violating her probation and sentenced her to 10 days in the Talbot County Detention Center.

Less than a year later, Joseph Lambert, her live-in boyfriend and father of Christina, was charged with sexual abuse of minors.

In June 1992, Lambert, who worked for an asphalt paving company, was convicted in Talbot County Circuit Court of sexual molestation of two young girls and battery of a third.

He is serving a 10-year prison sentence at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Somerset County.

Ms. Aulton and Mr. Lambert lived for a time in a rented trailer outside Easton but were evicted and moved into a walk-up apartment in St. Michaels, neighbors said.

Those who knew Ms. Aulton said she worked only periodically, including a stint as a maid at the St. Michaels Motor Inn. Co-worker Jennelle Thurman, who befriended Ms. Aulton, said the young woman often appeared to be aimless and not capable of taking care of herself and her baby.

"She would try to hold a job and just walk off," said Mrs. Thurman. "The poor child was in trouble. She had a baby and didn't know what to do with it."

Ms. Aulton came by the Thurman house almost every day. "I knew what it was for. It was for food," Mrs. Thurman said. "She didn't have any money and didn't have any food. I think she lived on cigarettes for days."

Ms. Aulton said she had to leave St. Michaels because she could no longer afford the rent on her apartment.

"You would never believe what they say she did," said Mrs. Thurman. "She was a sick child, but she loved her baby."

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