Balto. Co. man gets 25 years in death of his infant daughter

October 13, 2004|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Standing to be sentenced for killing his 2-month-old daughter, Kaazim U. Moore's words were barely discernible as he sobbed that he would never have intentionally hurt little Aniya.

Minutes later, 16-year-old Amintre Billinger bolted from the courtroom, wailing that she wanted her baby back. The young mother collapsed in the hallway.

"This is such a tragedy -- for both sides," defense attorney Margaret A. Mead said yesterday outside the Baltimore County courtroom where her client was sentenced to 25 years in prison for murder.

Mead had become choked up while telling the judge that "no matter what punishment Mr. Moore receives in terms of incarceration, I know his heart's broken." Prosecutors told the court that Billinger was so shaken up by her baby's death that she moved from her foster family's house into a group home in Baltimore for teenagers who can't cope with foster care.

Moore, 23, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder in the June 2003 death of his daughter. The medical examiner ruled that Aniya K. Moore died of blunt force injuries to the head and what he referred to as "forceful shaking, also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome."

When Moore returned to court yesterday, friends and family of both of the baby's parents filled the courtroom for the sentencing hearing.

"These are some of the most difficult if not saddest types of cases to prosecute, both because of the age of the victim and because, quite frankly, in shaken-baby cases, you aren't dealing with a hardened criminal," prosecutor James O'C. Gentry Jr. said in an interview. "Sometimes you're dealing with an average Joe, or Jane, who just loses it."

Moore and Billinger, the baby's mother, had been in a relationship when their daughter was conceived but later split up. The former couple lived blocks from each other -- he on Benoni Circle and she on Alberge Lane -- in the Chase area of Baltimore County. They shared the responsibility of raising their daughter.

Aniya was with Moore at his family's home on May 30 last year when she was fatally injured. The baby died two days later in the University of Maryland Medical Center's pediatric intensive care unit.

In a written statement to police full of misspellings and grammatical errors, Moore indicated that after giving his daughter a bottle, a bath and a nap, she wouldn't wake up and passed out in his arms. He shook her for 10 to 15 seconds to try to wake her, Moore wrote.

"i didn't no what to [do] that the first thin that come to my mind," he wrote. "it was stupid i should have nerer did itt."

But prosecutors said the death was not as much of an accident as Moore and his attorney suggested.

"This baby didn't die because he shook the baby because he was trying to get the baby to breathe," Gentry told the judge. "This baby died because of impacts to the head."

Referring to Mead's suggestion that Moore was not like the typical child abuse defendant who returns home angry from work and throws his child against a wall, Gentry said, "Yes, he is. Because there were two impacts."

Although Moore told police that his daughter's head might have accidentally hit the wooden portion of a sofa while he was shaking her, Gentry said that police found the sofa to be fully upholstered.

Noting those inconsistencies and Moore's conduct -- described as "aloof" by paramedics who responded to Moore's 911 call -- early in the investigation, Baltimore County Circuit Judge Susan Souder sentenced him to 25 years in prison.

The sentence was less time than the 30 years prosecutors had asked for but far more than a suspended sentence and probation requested by Moore's lawyer. At the time of his arrest, Moore was on probation after being convicted in 2001 of second-degree rape for having sex with a girl under the age of 14, Moore's lawyer said during yesterday's hearing.

Billinger, who fled the courtroom in tears as Gentry described her daughter's injuries, again burst into tears as the judge announced the sentence.

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