12-year-old girl is charged in death of child

October 30, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

A 12-year-old girl was arrested yesterday and charged with the beating death of a 4-year-old family friend, according to police documents.

The charges stem from the death two weeks ago of Randy Allen Weeks, the documents state.

After receiving a 911 hang-up call, fire rescue workers responded Oct. 17 to the boy's home in the 2000 block of N. Bentalou St. They took the boy to Sinai Hospital, where he was placed on life support with multiple injuries. He was pronounced dead at 8:38 a.m. on Oct. 19. The medical examiner later ruled that he died by blunt force trauma, according to documents.

Police declined yesterday to release the suspect's name or details about the death. Prosecutors also declined to comment about the case. Police are continuing to investigate, according to documents.

More than 30 city youths have died by homicide this year, including at least nine victims under the age of 10. The girl accused of killing the 4-year-old is among the city's youngest homicide suspects, too young to be charged as an adult.

"Our prosecutors are confronted with the raw emotion of these tragedies day after day," said Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for the city state's attorney's office. "They are weary from the grief that is shared by the families in our community. They wonder, `Are we losing this battle?'"

Authorities had not previously responded to the boy's house for any child abuse allegation, the police documents state.

No one was home last night at the West Baltimore rowhouse where the boy lived and was beaten. A neighbor said police had recently come by to ask her whether she had heard a fight next door.

After being charged last night, the girl was to be transported to the Juvenile Justice Center on Gay Street. Maryland law prohibits juveniles under 14 from being charged as adults.

It's not unusual for teenagers in Baltimore to be charged with violence crimes, but it's rare for a suspect so young to be accused of killing another, even younger child. And it's particularly uncommon for a girl to be charged with such a brutal crime on another child.

Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the Baltimore Health Commissioner and head of a city panel that reviews every unexpected child death to find common threads, said he cannot remember a case in the last few years in which the suspect was a girl. "However, it does point out that girls are unquestionably becoming more violent," said Beilenson, recalling the beating earlier this year of a 12-year-old girl attending a birthday party. Several women and girls were charged in the free-for-all attack.

"They aren't showing up in major numbers as perpetrators of violence, but certainly are in violent behavior either in school or out of school, gang-related or not gang-related," Beilenson said.

He said he was saddened by the death, but also frustrated that such incidents color the perception many people have of Baltimore's youth. That makes it hard to attract funding for beneficial youth services.

"It's distressing that it paints a picture that is not true of the vast majority of kids, who are decent kids trying very hard often in very difficult circumstances," Beilenson said. "People in the region see this and throw up their hands and say, `What can be done?'"

Other recent high-profile incidents of youth violence in Baltimore include an incident last year in which a 14-year-old boy was charged in the killing of a man he had just met.

In 2002, two 14-year-old boys were charged with cutting off electronic monitoring devices and committing murders.

Sun staff writers Jonathan Bor and Matthew Dolan contributed to this article.

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