Woman arrested as judge revokes plea agreement

Second trial set on abuse charges

April 29, 1999|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A 20-year-old woman accused of burning her daughter in a bathtub filled with scalding water and bleach in 1997 was arrested yesterday for allegedly failing to comply with a plea agreement that would have spared her a second trial on child-abuse charges.

The trial of Mary V. Cabassa of Severn is scheduled for late next month.

She was to be sentenced yesterday by Howard Circuit Judge Lenore R. Gelfman under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors.

Cabassa had pleaded guilty in February to charges of child abuse and second-degree assault, and prosecutors were going to recommend that Cabassa spend 18 months in jail while attending parent classes and undergoing psychological counseling.

Cabassa did not meet with probation agents, did not ask permission to move from Savage to Severn and did not attend parent and anger management classes, all of which were part of her deal, officials said.

Last month, Gelfman issued a warrant for Cabassa's arrest for failing to comply with the agreement.

"The plea agreement is off," Gelfman said.

Cabassa arrived 30 minutes late for the hearing yesterday and was arrested in the hallway outside the Ellicott City courtroom.

She was crying when she was led away in handcuffs. She declined to comment.

She is being held at the county detention center.

Police and prosecutors allege that in November 1997, Cabassa put her daughter, Skylar Nestar, then 15 months old, into a bathtub filled with scalding water and bleach.

The child suffered burns on 48 percent of her body and spent 108 days recovering in a hospital.

Cabassa was convicted of reckless endangerment in December. The jury acquitted her of first-degree assault and deadlocked on charges of child abuse and second-degree assault.

To avoid a second trial on the unresolved charges, prosecutors and Cabassa entered into the plea agreement that was dismissed yesterday.

Skylar remains in foster care, officials said.

During her trial, Cabassa was pregnant. That daughter is living with Cabassa's mother in Florida, said Cabassa's former boyfriend, who drove her to court.

He did not want his name published.

Cabassa dismissed her previous attorney, public defender Sam Truette, about 10 days ago.

She was assigned a private attorney, Joseph Tauber, who said he hadn't met his client.

"I haven't had any contact" with Cabassa, he said. "I'm looking forward to hearing from her. I'm just jumping into the case now."

Prosecutor Cindy L. Johnson said she is ready for trial.

"This goes with the territory," she said.

In reports to the court, officials said Cabassa's progress was unsatisfactory because she did not report to her probation agent or attend the parent classes. She also did not show up for a psychiatric and psychological evaluation.

Cabassa's former boyfriend, who posted her previous bond, said she did not know about the warrant. She called him Tuesday night and asked for a ride to the courthouse because she was having car trouble, he said.

"She seemed pretty confident," he said. "She sounded like she was prepared."

Pub Date: 4/29/99

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