Honor student's future is shattered by beating

Teen who looked forward to job, college lies critical

May 29, 2004|By Tanika White | Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Lansdowne High School honor student Shannon Pierre-Jerome had recently been hired to work over the summer as an assistant in the office of a Baltimore lawyer who found the 17-year-old bright, energetic and professional beyond her years.

Yesterday that lawyer, Roger L. Harris Jr., stood outside Maryland Shock Trauma Center and said that Pierre-Jerome -- suddenly his client instead of his employee -- had just experienced "a transformation from hell."

Pierre-Jerome, who is scheduled to graduate from Lansdowne next week, was in critical but stable condition yesterday at the trauma center after being beaten and left for dead in her Towson apartment.

During a bail-review hearing yesterday morning, a Baltimore County District Court judge denied bail for Juan Pablo Navarro Juarez -- the girl's 24-year-old live-in boyfriend -- who is charged with first-degree attempted murder. He was being held yesterday at the Baltimore County Detention Center.

Family members huddled outside the hospital and described a beautiful, vibrant girl who had been brutally beaten, horribly disfigured and possibly cheated out of a promising future.

Pierre-Jerome had planned to study Spanish and dance at Towson University in the fall.

"She has wires and tubes coming out of every angle of her head," said a tearful and shaking June Hussnain, Pierre-Jerome's mother. "There's too much fluid on her brain. She can breathe on her own only a little bit. They're giving her a little bit of nutrients through a tube. Her head is swollen enormously. It's the size of three heads."

Ryan Booth, Pierre-Jerome's uncle, said doctors predict that the girl will remain at Shock Trauma for at least three months, and in intensive care for another six. Once recovered, Booth said, Pierre-Jerome will require 1 1/2 to two years of rehabilitation.

"We're just praying that she lives and she gets her mind back," said Harris, who is representing Pierre-Jerome and her family. "She's got such an incredible future. This is such a tragedy."

Pierre-Jerome had recently moved to the Towson Woods Apartments with Juarez, her boyfriend of more than two years. Pierre-Jerome's sister said the family thought Juarez was 21.

"She was old enough to make that step on her own. She was mature enough," said Chantal Pierre-Jerome, 20.

Family members said they trusted the quiet man, even though he seemed jealous and possessive.

"I thought of him as a son, as if he was my own child," Hussnain said. "He's always been jealous of her classmates and her friends. He even tried to get her not to go to college. He just wants her to himself. He don't want to share her with nobody. Not with me. Not with her sister. Not with her friends."

"We could tell he was insecure because he wanted her around all the time," Chantal Pierre-Jerome said. "But you would've never thought he would do something like this."

On Wednesday, when she was attacked, Pierre-Jerome should have been preparing for that night's senior prom, which she planned to attend with Juarez, Hussnain said.

Instead, she was lying in a hospital bed, fighting for her life.

"I had to watch her lay there instead of watching her get dressed up," Hussnain said. "Instead of fixing her hair and watching her go out the door."

Sun staff writer Julie Bykowicz contributed to this article.

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