4 charged in attack on girl get trial delay

12-year-old was beaten during birthday party

September 14, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Four people charged in the near-fatal beating of a 12-year- old girl at a Baltimore birthday party were granted trial postponements yesterday, as prosecutors reported that the girl's condition is improving.

"She is now walking and talking," said Julie Drake, chief of the felony violence unit in the Baltimore state's attorney's office. "But she is never going to be the girl she would have been."

Drake would not say whether Nicole Ashley Townes, who was in a coma for three months, has been released from a rehabilitation hospital but the prosecutor said the girl is in "contact on a regular basis with her family."

Nicole was beaten in a fierce, free-for-all attack Feb. 28.

The four whose trials were postponed yesterday were: Monique Baldwin, 36, who is accused of instigating the attack and who is the mother of the girl whose birthday was being celebrated; Baldwin's cousin Erin Baldwin, 20; party guest Seletta Broaddus, 15; and Kenya Keene, 24, who lived with Nicole.

Their new trial date is Dec. 3.

Another co-defendant, Temprest Baldwin, has a trial date set Sept. 23.

According to lawyers, there have been discussions of a plea arrangement with Temprest Baldwin and Erin Baldwin, which would be in exchange for their testimony against the others.

After the hearing, Monique Baldwin's lawyer defended her, saying that she was at the party, but she was not involved in the attack.

"They can say what they want," Monique Baldwin's lawyer, Michael L. Kaplan, said. "You have everyone who did the beating trying to dump out on the case. They're all trying to save their own souls."

Two teenagers charged as juveniles in the case admitted in juvenile court this year to being involved in the incident.

Monique Baldwin threw the party for her daughter. The attack on Nicole began after a 12- year-old boy at the party kissed Nicole, according to documents.

One of the guests became upset, telling Nicole she looked like a girl who had accused her brother of rape, records show.

Monique Baldwin is accused of repeatedly ordering her relatives to beat and stomp Nicole until she was limp, according to documents.

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