Prognosis `very poor' for girl beaten at party

12-year-old may suffer permanent brain damage, Baltimore prosecutor says

April 03, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A 12-year-old West Baltimore girl who was nearly beaten to death at a friend's birthday party in February is still in the hospital with significant and possibly permanent brain damage, prosecutors said yesterday.

"Her prognosis is very poor," Assistant State's Attorney Julie Drake said of Nicole Ashley Townes. "If she is not a vegetable, she will be leading a life that none of us wants. I can't say she's lucky to be alive."

Drake made the comments at a bail review hearing in which two of the women charged in the group beating - Monique Baldwin, 36, and Erin Baldwin, 19 - were denied bail by a Circuit Court judge who said the pair are a "significant danger" to society.

Townes has been in the hospital since the attack Feb. 28. She slips in and out of consciousness and is connected to a feeding tube, Drake said. She is able to speak occasionally.

The Baldwins have been held without bail since their arrest March 9. They are charged with attempted first-degree murder, assault and child abuse. Monique Baldwin, who is accused of instigating the group attack, is Erin Baldwin's cousin.

Five people - three women and two girls - are accused of kicking, stomping and punching Nicole at the party until she was bloodied and unconscious.

Besides the Baldwins, others indicted in connection with the beating are Monique Baldwin's niece, Temprest Baldwin, 14, who was charged as an adult, and Kenya Keene, 24, who lived with Nicole.

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

Nicole, of the 400 block of Lyndhurst St., was in a coma for several days after the beating. Her sister, Brenda Bailey, 11, was also beaten but suffered less serious injuries.

Monique Baldwin's attorney, Michael Lee Kaplan, asked the judge to set bail at $25,000. Erin Baldwin's attorney, Warren A. Brown, asked for home detention for his client, who he said had a lesser role in the attack.

Judge Joseph P. McCurdy Jr. denied their requests. "I am convinced these two are a significant danger," McCurdy said.

Neither Baldwin woman showed any emotion during the hearing.

Monique Baldwin threw the birthday party for her 13-year- old daughter. The attack on Nicole began after a teen at the party kissed Nicole, Drake said.

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

Monique Baldwin then told her 14-year-old niece to "handle your business," at which point the girl and Monique Baldwin's daughter began to slap, punch and kick Nicole and Brenda, the police records say. The host repeatedly ordered her relatives, including her 8-year-old son, to beat and stomp on Nicole until she was limp, according to documents.

"She was training these children how to be predators, how to be murderers," Drake said.

At one point, Nicole was cowering on a couch, and Erin Baldwin pulled her to the floor so others could continue beating her, Drake said.

Monique Baldwin instructed her family to close the windows and turn up the music so party guests could beat Nicole and Brenda without anyone hearing their cries, according to police documents.

Drake said that after the attack, the defendants could have prevented Nicole's brain damage had they called paramedics immediately. Instead, they put her in a corner for about 30 minutes and continued with the party.

When an ambulance arrived, they told paramedics that Nicole suffered a diabetic seizure while dancing, so paramedics did not immediately treat her appropriately for her injuries, Drake said.

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