Four indicted in girl's beating

3 women, one teen face attempted murder, assault and abuse charges

Victim, 12, attacked at party

March 19, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Three Baltimore women and one teen-ager who are accused of savagely beating a 12-year-old during a birthday party last month were indicted yesterday by a city grand jury on charges of attempted first-degree murder, assault and child abuse.

Nicole Ashley Townes was repeatedly punched, kicked and choked until she was bloodied and unconscious. Her sister, Brenda Bailey, 11, also was beaten but suffered less serious injuries.

Nicole, who lives in the 400 block of Lyndhurst St. in West Baltimore, was in a coma for several days after the attack Feb. 28.

Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office, said Nicole remains in the pediatric intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

"She is slightly responsive to pain, but is not speaking, and continues to be in a comalike state," Burns said.

Indicted were Monique Baldwin, 36, of the 500 block of Louden Ave.; her cousin, Erin Baldwin, 19, of the 2500 block of W. Baltimore St.; her niece, Temprest Baldwin, 14, of the 1000 block of Wedgewood Road; and her friend, Kenya Keene, 24, who lived with Nicole.

The Baldwin women are being held without bail; Keene is being held on $35,000 bail.

Monique Baldwin's daughter, who is 13, was charged as a juvenile with attempted first-degree murder.

Monique Baldwin, who was giving the party at her house for her daughter, appeared to be the instigator of the attack, according to court records, as she repeatedly ordered her relatives, including her 8-year-old son, to beat and stomp on Nicole until she was limp.

Prosecutors say they have not decided whether to charge the 8-year-old in the crime.

"It is extraordinarily rare to charge a juvenile as young as 8," Burns said. She said police are expected to make more arrests in the beating.

Keene is not related to Nicole but is described by police as the girl's primary caretaker. She assumed that role after Nicole's mother, Bonita Wilson, failed to take care of the child, according to family members. Keene moved into the home with Wilson, Nicole and other family members.

Wilson described Keene as abusive and said Nicole and Brenda were afraid of her, documents show.

Nicole, Brenda and their mother, Bonita Wilson, were beaten regularly by Keene, according to police records.

Wilson told authorities that before the birthday party, Keene accused Wilson of eating her cookies and using her hair gel.

"Kenya and her friend Monique began beating Bonita -- punching and throwing her about the room," records said. "Kenya told Bonita she couldn't come to the party because of the marks on her face and body."

Police documents say the birthday party attack began after one of the teens at the party kissed Nicole on a dare.

An unnamed adult at the party saw the kiss and became upset, saying that Nicole had once accused her cousin of rape, according to police records.

"I won't let that happen again!" the adult was quoted as saying in police documents.

Monique Baldwin then told her 14-year-old niece Temprest Baldwin to "handle your business," at which point the girl and Monique Baldwin's daughter began to slap, punch and kick Nicole and Brenda, documents show.

The 13-year-old stomped on Nicole's head, and Temprest Baldwin 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, yelling: "We don't take body shots. We do the head," according to documents.

The beating continued, according to police accounts, and the 8-year-old son joined in.

"Don't nobody stop him, he has to let his frustration out," Monique Baldwin said, according to documents.

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