City man pleads innocent to abuse of girlfriend, boy

April 17, 2002|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore man pleaded innocent yesterday to charges of child abuse and domestic violence in a case prosecutors said is among the first in which a single jury will hear allegations of abuse against a mother and her son.

An Aug. 21 trial date was set for Michael Cole, 32, whom prosecutors have charged with 13 counts, including first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. Assistant State's Attorney Julie Drake said Cole brutally abused the 3-year-old son of his girlfriend, Tiffany Myrick. The child suffered fractured ribs, a fractured right foot, contusions on his liver, severe bruising and lacerations to his genitals.

Cole is charged with second-degree assault against Myrick.

Cole's mother and sister listened to the brief arraignment in Baltimore Circuit Court, but declined to comment.

Defense attorney John S. Deros said: "Absolutely someone else had to do it. My impression is that he [Cole] ... doesn't have it in him, and he is the prime target. Obviously, someone has to be blamed, and we're going to get to the bottom of it."

Cole is "mortified by the charges against him," he said.

Deros also said that the boy's injuries hint at the unlikelihood of a male assailant.

"It seems unlikely a male would do that to another male," Deros said. "It just seems to me that whoever did this is obviously very sick and very angry, and has some type of agenda, and based on what I've seen of Michael Cole, he's not the one."

If convicted of all charges, Cole could face 225 years in prison.

Drake said "the evidence will speak for itself at trial."

Trying the domestic violence and child abuse charges together represents a new tactic in dealing with abuse cases that is part of a national trend, prosecutors said.

Police learned about the case on Feb. 26, after Myrick brought her son to Mercy Medical Center in downtown Baltimore.

According to charging documents, Myrick had seen bruises on her son's face and body and noticed that he walked bent over and was limping. When she asked the boy who had done this to him, the child replied, "Michael," the documents said.

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