Man, investigated in abuse, indicted in daughter's death

Police, social services probe broken ribs of son last year

girl had similar injuries

July 17, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A man who was indicted in Baltimore yesterday in the killing of his 2-month-old daughter last month was investigated by Child Protective Services and police in the near-death of his infant son last year in Baltimore County, police documents show.

County police investigated Acurtiss Grimes, 23, in connection with the broken ribs of his 5-month-old son in January 2003, but did not charge him with a crime. The infant turned blue and stopped breathing for several seconds, according to the records.

"We couldn't prove he did it," said Baltimore County prosecutor Susan Hazlett, who handles child abuse cases. "There were three people who had access to the baby during the time frame he was injured."

The Department of Social Services opened a case involving Grimes after his son, Jamison Gerald Grimes, was found to have been abused, according to records. But the child was not permanently removed from the home.

The outcome of that case is not clear, but when his younger sister, Kaitlyn Marie Grimes, died last month from multiple injuries, Jamison was still in the care of his parents. By then, the family had moved from Baltimore County to the city.

Paramedics arrived at the house last month, responding to a 911 call that Kaitlyn had stopped breathing. Jamison, now 2 years old, was sitting on a chair "in shock," according to police who were at the scene in the 2700 block of Christopher Ave.

Police and court documents detail many similarities in the cases of the two Grimes children.

Both infants came to the hospital with inexplicable broken ribs. Grimes told authorities in both cases that the babies were covered in bruises because either he or their mother, Kristine Michelle Bailin, tripped and fell while carrying them, documents show.

With both children, Grimes told police that when he noticed his infants had stopped breathing, he administered CPR, according to records.

In 5-month-old Jamison's case, the CPR worked and he quickly began to breathe on his own, records show. But CPR was not as effective for Kaitlyn, who stopped breathing on Father's Day and died two days later.

According to a Baltimore County police report, the county Department of Social Services opened a case for Jamison in January 2003, after he went to the hospital with broken bones.

"Dr. [Alan] Walker advised that he is very concerned about the safety of this child," the county report said, referring to the opinions of Walker, a pediatric child-abuse specialist. "Dr. Walker stated that there is nothing that could've caused the child to stop breathing except for strangulation or suffocation."

The county police report also stated that Walker concluded the fractures "could not have been from a fall of only a few feet."

`Insufficient evidence'

Bailin told police that she would take the equivalent of a lie-detector test explaining the events before Jamison turned blue, but she later rescinded her offer, according to police reports. County police then closed their investigation.

"Due to there being insufficient evidence to support a felony child abuse charge, this case may be closed," reads the last line of the county police report, dated March 2003.

Bill Toohey, Baltimore County Police spokesman, said yesterday he did not know any further details about why the case was dropped.

In Kaitlyn's case, city police accuse Grimes of abusing her, leaving bruises on her head, face, chest and back. The cause of her death was multiple injuries, including damage to her head and brain, court documents show.

Court records allege that Grimes was alone with Kaitlyn when she was killed and that the girl frequently had "unexplained bruises" when she was in her father's care.

A city grand jury indicted Grimes yesterday on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse in Kaitlyn's death.

The Department of Human Resources - which oversees Maryland's local social services agencies - has refused to discuss anything involving either of the children since Kaitlyn was killed.

"This is confidential information," department spokesman Norris P. West said yesterday. "We are not going to comment on cases like this."

Under department policy, West said, when a family involved in an open social services case moves to a new jurisdiction within the state, the case transfers. If a case is closed and a family moves, the local department is not notified, West said.

Similar cases

The Grimes case is similar to several other recent child-abuse deaths in Baltimore.

One such case includes that of Sierra Swann, a runaway foster teen whose oldest child was taken from her because of abuse and neglect. She was charged in May with murdering her newborn twin daughters.

Keisha L. Carr, a 23-year-old who broke the arms and legs of her eldest son, is now in prison, convicted of brutally killing the boy's infant brother last year.

Sheila Avery lost custody of her son, Travon Morris, because of neglect, and within a month of his return to her, she put the 5-year-old into a scalding bath, killing him. She pleaded guilty last year.

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