Teenager sentenced in beating of girl, 12

Judge orders one year in group home for attack

July 01, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A 13-year-old who admitted participating in the near-fatal beating of a younger guest at her birthday party in February was sentenced to a year in a group home yesterday, as a Baltimore Circuit Court judge castigated the girl's lawyers for trying to minimize her role in the attack.

The girl -- whose mother is accused of instigating the free-for-all pummeling of 12-year-old Nicole Ashley Townes -- was committed to the Department of Juvenile Services. The teen's name is being withheld because she is a juvenile.

Nicole was in a coma for three weeks after the beating in West Baltimore. Authorities say she is expected to have permanent brain damage.

"This was not a garden-variety second-degree assault as your lawyers would like me to believe," Judge Edward R. K. Hargadon told the girl. "This was a horrible group attack on a person who is permanently injured."

The teen entered the equivalent of a guilty plea in April to two counts of second-degree assault in exchange for prosecutors' dropping more serious charges.

Public defenders Steve Bergman and Kara Donaldson told the judge that the girl's mother, Monique Baldwin, 36, was the force behind the beating of Nicole. According to court records, Baldwin encouraged her daughter and other children to beat Nicole until she was unconscious.

"Children are taught to obey their parents, and [the girl] was obeying," Donaldson said.

Hargadon also told the teen she must perform 100 hours of community service with brain-injury victims, write an essay every three months about the impact of violence and send letters of apology to the victims.

Additionally, Hargadon acknowledged the stress the girl must be under, knowing that her mother is in jail after being charged in the incident.

Details of the teen's life emerged yesterday in testimony from Denise Miller Smith, an investigator for the Department of Juvenile Services. She said the girl acknowledged being a bully and has difficulty controlling her anger. She once overturned a desk in class in a fit of rage, and another time was thrown out of school for fighting, Miller Smith said.

Another 14-year-old girl who was at the party and also admitted being part of the attack was given a similar sentence a month ago.

Five others have been charged in the incident and are awaiting trial. They include three adults: Baldwin, her cousin Erin Baldwin, 20; and Kenya Keene, 24, who lived with Nicole. Two teenagers were charged as adults: Temprest Baldwin, 14, who is Monique Baldwin's niece; and Seletta Broaddus, 15, another guest at the party.

Juveniles 13 or younger charged with attempted first-degree murder in Maryland are sent to the juvenile system. Those 14 and older are charged as adults.

Prosecutor Carrie Bland said the beating began when a boy at the party kissed Nicole. Bland said the kiss enraged Monique Baldwin, the party host, who told her niece, Temprest, to "handle your business," at which point the girl and Monique Baldwin's daughter began to beat Nicole and her sister Brenda Bailey. Brenda, 11, suffered minor injuries.

Others at the party joined in the attack, until Nicole's limp body slumped on the couch, according to court documents.

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