5 accused in beating of girl, 12, at party

Three women, two teens charged in Feb. 28 attack

Victim remains in a coma

March 11, 2004|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

The vicious beating of a 12-year-old girl at a birthday party in West Baltimore has led to the arrest of five people -- three women and two girls -- who are accused of kicking, stomping and punching the girl until she was bloodied and unconscious.

The victim, Nicole Ashley Townes, of the 400 block of Lyndhurst St., has been in a coma since the Feb. 28 attack. She was listed in critical condition last night at Johns Hopkins Childrens Center.

Doctors treating Nicole told police that she has severe head injuries and "no brain activity" -- the result of neurological damage from loss of oxygen.

Nicole's grandmother and pastor said last night that the girl opened her eyes and tried to speak this week, but that she remains unconscious.

"I don't know why this happened," said Jerelean Wilson, the girl's maternal grandmother, who attended the party but left before the attack. "Nicole is a beautiful person, and I don't know why they would want to do this."

Police arrested three women and two teen-age girls Tuesday after an anonymous tip from someone who witnessed the attack, which took place at a child's 13th birthday party.

Monique Baldwin, 36, of the 500 block of Loudon Ave., and Erin Baldwin, 19, address unknown, were charged with attempted murder, assault, and false imprisonment, said Detective Donny Moses of the city Police Department. It was unclear if the two women are related.

Kenya Keene, 25, who lives with Nicole at her grandmother's house, was charged with assault and conspiracy to commit child abuse. However, Nicole's family defended Keene yesterday, saying that she loved the girl and would never hurt her.

The family said that Keene, who attended the party, was absent when the beating took place. A witness told police that when Keene returned to the party and found Nicole unconscious, she demanded that someone call 911.

Two unidentified juveniles -- ages 13 and 14 -- also were arrested and charged with attempted murder, Moses said.

"This is a horrendous story," he said. "As I read the police report, I get sick to my stomach."

It started with a kiss.

According to charging documents obtained by The Sun, Nicole and her half-sister, Brenda Bailey, 11, were at Monique Baldwin's house for the 13-year-old girl's party. Someone dared a boy to kiss Nicole. After the boy kissed her, several people surrounded Nicole and Brenda.

Monique Baldwin told the 14-year-old to "handle your business," at which point the 14-year-old and 13-year-old began to slap and punch Nicole and Brenda and the 13-year-old stomped on Nicole's head, according a witness statement in the documents.

Later, Monique Baldwin encouraged the 13-year-old to attack Nicole again, the documents said. When the teen hesitated, Monique Baldwin grabbed Nicole and shoved her into the 13-year-old, and Nicole was punched in the face and body, the documents said, adding that as Nicole tried to crawl away, the 14-year-old kicked her in the stomach.

According to the charging documents, Monique Baldwin encouraged the two girls to strike Nicole in the head, yelling: "We don't take body shots, we do the head." The 14-year-old jumped on top of Nicole, pulled her hair and repeatedly smashed her head into the floor, the documents said. The beating continued, according to police accounts, and a 7-year-old boy was encouraged to participate.

Later, Monique Baldwin instructed her family to shut all the windows and turn up the music so that party guests could beat Nicole and Brenda without anyone hearing their cries, the charging documents said.

According to the documents, the females stomped and kicked Nicole until one noticed that she was bleeding and not moving. Monique Baldwin tried to revive the girl by pouring water down her throat, the documents said.

The girl was accused of "faking it," and when a family member tried to call 911, she was not allowed to do so, documents said. When Keene returned to the party, she made the call.

Last night, her grandmother said that Nicole's mother, Bonita Wilson, is staying at the hospital with her daughter.

Brenda, who also suffered injuries, has been placed in the care of the Child Protective Services, police said.

The Rev. Durrell Williams, pastor of Full Gospel Deliverance Church, at 1053 N. Milton Ave., where Nicole is a junior usher and a member of the "dance ministry," said the family is stunned by the attack.

"I'm really, really appalled," Williams said. "Nicole was close to all of us. She played an important role in our lives. We have been trying to get to the bottom of this since Day One."

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