A Baltimore teen-ager pleaded innocent yesterday to charges of kidnapping and first-degree burglary in a case involving the abduction of a toddler from the child's Clifton Avenue home last month.
Prosecutors set an Aug. 15 trial date for Marsha Bynum, 16, of the 200 block of W. 27th St. in the city's Remington section. She could face up to 50 years in prison on the kidnapping and burglary charges, said Assistant State's Attorney Dave Mabrey, who is prosecuting the case. Bynum also faces three lesser charges, Mabrey said.
Police say Bynum told them she took Christopher Pierce from his home in the 2100 block of Clifton Ave. because she was concerned about the child's welfare. Bynum, who lives less than two miles from the boy's home, is an acquaintance of his family.
Christopher, 2,was reported missing about 5 p.m. on April 3 by his mother, Kesha Elliott, 19, and was last seen by other relatives about 7 a.m. the day before, police said. Police and FBI agents searched for the boy but were unable to find him until he showed up on his mother's doorstep about 3 p.m. April 10.
Mabrey said it is too early to tell whether Bynum, who has been charged as an adult, would be offered a plea agreement.
"The public defender has a lot of things they want to look into, and we're looking into a lot of things," Mabrey said.
Bynum is represented by assistant public defenders Romel Showell and David Addison.
Addison specializes in representing juveniles who have been charged as adults. He said Bynum is entitled to a hearing to have her case transferred to juvenile court, but a hearing hasn't been scheduled.
Bynum is being held without bail in the city's detention center.
The toddler's great-grandmother, Gracie McNeal, said yesterday she doesn't understand why Bynum feared for the boy's safety, as she told police.
"If she did it out of love, I could understand, but this was done out of spite," McNeal said. "She doesn't know this household. I'm hoping that justice will prevail. He was missing for eight days, and we prayed for his safe return. I was just scared because generally when they get missing and [authorities] find them, they are dead or have been harmed."