City girl attacked at birthday party emerges from coma

3 women, 2 teens charged in beating sparked by alleged kissing dare

March 12, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

FIVE PEOPLE — A 12-year-old girl who was viciously beaten at a friend's birthday party in West Baltimore emerged from a coma yesterday as authorities continued to piece together what happened and who participated in the violence.

Five people - three women and two girls - are accused of kicking, stomping on and punching Nicole Ashley Townes until she was bloodied and unconscious.

Nicole, who lives in the 400 block of Lyndhurst St., had been in a coma since the attack Feb. 28. She was listed in critical condition last night at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

She is breathing on her own and responding to questions with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, said Detective Donny Moses of the Baltimore Police Department.

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, court documents show. Both women are being held without bail in the city jail.

Two juveniles - ages 13 and 14 - also were arrested and charged with attempted murder. The motivation for the attack was that a boy kissed Nicole on a dare during the birthday party at the home of Monique Baldwin, according to the documents.

"It was that kiss," Moses said yesterday. "None of it makes sense to me. They got angry over that kiss."

At West Baltimore Middle School yesterday, where Nicole is a sixth-grader, pupils, teachers and administrators were saddened, and dozens of her classmates made get-well cards.

"Nicole helped ... another sixth-grader with her reading," teacher Frann Fischer said yesterday. "She listened to her read, and if the other little girl had some difficulty, she would help her. She was like a mother hen. A very good student, very conscientious."

Monique Baldwin, who was giving the party for her 13-year- old daughter, appeared to be the instigator of the attack, according to court records, as she repeatedly ordered her two daughters, 13 and 14, and her 7-year-old son to beat and stomp on Nicole until she was limp. And it was the kiss, documents said, that precipitated the attack.

A woman who family members say was Nicole's primary caretaker, Kenya Keene, was also charged in the crime. Keene is a friend of Nicole's family and had become a mother figure to the girl after Nicole's mother, Bonita Wilson, failed to take care of the child, according to family members.

Keene, 25, is charged with assault, conspiracy to commit child abuse and making a false statement to an officer. She is being held in lieu of $35,000 bail.

Documents state that although Keene was not at the party at the time of the beating, she knew what had occurred and lied to police about Nicole's injuries when officers arrived at Baldwin's house.

After the incident, Keene told police that Nicole had suffered a diabetic episode and had fallen down, which "misled the doctors," according to documents.

Nicole and her half-sister, Brenda Bailey, 11, were attending the party in the 500 block of N. Louden Ave. when the boy kissed Nicole. Soon after, several people surrounded Nicole and Brenda.

Monique Baldwin told her 14-year-old daughter to "handle your business," at which point the girl and her sister began to slap, punch and kick Nicole and Brenda, documents show. The 13-year-old stomped on Nicole's head, and the 14-year-old kicked her in the stomach, according to a witness statement in court documents.

Monique Baldwin further encouraged the two girls to strike Nicole in the head, according to documents.

The beating continued, according to police accounts, and the 7-year-old son was encouraged to join in.

Later, Monique Baldwin instructed her family to shut the windows and turn up the music to muffle cries by Nicole and Brenda, the charging documents said.

Brenda, who suffered less severe injuries than Nicole, has been placed in the care of the Child Protective Services, police said.

Nicole's mother could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sun staff writers Lynn Anderson, Laurie Willis and Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this article.

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