The father of twin infant girls who were beaten to death last year in Northeast Baltimore rejected a plea deal yesterday that would have meant 30-year maximum prison sentences for him and the babies' mother.
Nathaniel Broadway, 25, and Sierra Swann, 18, are charged with first-degree murder in the May 11, 2004, deaths of Emonney and Emunnea Broadway in a case that seemed to illustrate multiple failures in the city's child-protection system.
The baby girls had fractured skulls and ribs and were severely malnourished when they died in the basement of an abandoned rowhouse that lacked basic amenities such as electricity and toilets.
A toddler had been removed from Swann's custody months before the birth of the twins because of allegations of abuse and neglect. Swann, a runaway foster child, was reportedly beaten by Broadway in her room at Johns Hopkins Hospital days after delivering Emonney and Emunnea.
Assistant State's Attorney Julie Drake was prepared to enter an arrangement yesterday in which Swann would plead guilty to two counts of child abuse resulting in death and Broadway would plead guilty to two counts of second-degree murder.
Swann's attorney, Michael D. Montemarano, said his client has been ready for months to plead guilty.
Drake said the sentence cap of 30 years in prison was a one-day offer and was contingent upon both parents admitting their guilt. She added that 30 years was "significantly less time" than she had initially offered Broadway.
"These defense attorneys really earned their pay in this case," Drake said. She said the three had talked for hours about the agreement before Broadway's attorney, Jeffrey G. Kinstler, was able to persuade her to reduce the maximum sentence.
Still, Broadway hesitated and shook his head when Circuit Judge John M. Glynn asked whether he would accept the offer. The judge said he was beginning to feel as though Broadway were being coerced into accepting a deal he didn't want and rebuffed Kinstler's request to give his client more time to consider it.
When Broadway backed out, both plea arrangements dissolved. "He had his chance," Glynn said. "It's over."
As Broadway was led away in handcuffs and shackles, relatives urged him to accept the deal. He later told his lawyer that he'd changed his mind, but Glynn refused to accept the plea.
Trial for Broadway and Swann is set for September.