Mother charged in death of her baby

Police say she failed to seek medical care

March 01, 2001|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

The mother of a 2-month-old child who died three months ago has been charged with second-degree murder for allegedly failing to seek medical attention for her sick infant, Baltimore police said yesterday.

Sherry Marilyn Walls, 30, of the 6500 block of Rosemont Ave. in Northeast Baltimore was ordered held without bail by a District Court judge yesterday and was placed on suicide watch at the city Detention Center.

Her next court date is scheduled for April 2. She was arrested Tuesday afternoon and charged late that night.

In addition to murder, Walls is charged with reckless endangerment and child abuse resulting in death. She faces a maximum 65-year prison term if convicted on all charges.

The state medical examiner's office ruled the death of 2-month-old Rickland Tyrone Walls III a homicide Feb. 14, determining the cause of death as "cardiac arrhythmia due to malnutrition ... due to failure to seek medical treatment."

Court charging documents filed yesterday say Rickland was born with a feeding intolerance and was hospitalized for four days. The infant suffered from an inflamed intestinal tract, making it difficult for him to absorb food.

Police said the mother was advised by doctors after the Oct. 1 birth to seek medical treatment, but their investigation "revealed that no visits took place," the court documents state.

Detective Keith Benson of the homicide unit wrote in the charging documents that "the fact no medical treatment was sought at any time after being discharged from the hospital represents a significant element of negligence."

Relatives of Walls could not be reached for comment yesterday. Walls was living with a friend, Andrea Foltz, in Northeast Baltimore.

Walls has four other children, all young girls, who were placed in the custody of the Department of Social Services after her arrest.

Foltz said she remembers the day Rickland died, Dec. 3: "Sherry was upstairs in her room with the child, and she came down and yelled, `Call 911. Something's wrong with my baby.'"

Rickland, suffering what was later determined to be a heart attack, was rushed to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and was pronounced dead at 11:10 p.m.

An investigation by police and the medical examiner revealed that Rickland had been born weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces and was kept at the unidentified hospital for four days because of the medical defect.

Court papers say the baby weighed 6 pounds, 6 ounces upon discharge "and was eating normally." Police said he needed routine medical care because he was unable to absorb food.

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