Father accused of slaying daughter Girl, 2, shot in head

police call crime 'evil'

July 29, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The father of a Baltimore toddler found dead in the front seat of a car in a remote area of a Northeast Baltimore industrial park Friday night has been charged with killing her in a crime a police spokesman decribed yesterday as "evil."

Richard A. Nicolas, 31, of the 500 block of Orkney Road was charged yesterdaymorning with first-degree murder and use of a handgun in commission of a felony in the death of 2-year-old Aja Nicolas, said Agent Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman.

"When you think of a child's innocence and how that child trusts a parent, it's beyond human comprehension how someone could commit such an evil act," Weinhold said. "It would be hard for me to think of a crime as evil as this."

Aja's body was discovered in Nicolas' light-blue Chevrolet Cavalier about 10 p.m. Friday after police responded to Nicolas' calls to 911. Nicolas told police then that someone in a black car rammed his from behind, shot his daughter and sped away.

But police said they began to doubt that story after discovering inconsistencies in Nicolas' version of the incident, Weinhold said.

Disbelief that a man would shoot his own daughter rippled through the Baltimore neighborhood where Aja lived with her mother.

Relatives and friends of the girl's mother, Lisa Esbrand, gathered at her home in the 4300 block of Frankford Ave. yesterday afternoon to console her. Nicholas Joseph, Esbrand's uncle, said his niece was too upset to talk with reporters.

"She's in a terrible shock," Joseph said. "She can't even look at her child's picture."

Other relatives said Aja was a happy child who considered her back yard her private playground. "She was full of energy," said Tony McPherson, Esbrand's cousin. "She always had a smile on her face. She could walk up to a complete stranger and win him over."

Weinhold said the father told police he was driving on Bowleys Lane south of Moravia Industrial Park when a black car rammed his.

Nicolas told police that when he pulled over, the black car came alongside the Cavalier and someone inside fired into the sedan, striking the girl, Weinhold said.

But investigators found no damage to the rear of Nicolas' car and noted that the wounds were on the left side of Aja's face, Weinhold said, which would make it unlikely the shots came from through the front passenger window.

"Very quickly, his account of the facts appeared to be flawed," Weinhold said. "There were many inconsistencies which did not support the physical evidence at the scene."

Pub Date: 7/29/96

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