Teen gets 4 years in arson plot


The woman who made a fraudulent 911 call in order to steer authorities away from men who were firebombing a North Baltimore community leader's home received a sentence of four years in prison yesterday.

Shakia Watkins, 19, of Baltimore pleaded guilty on Nov. 28 in federal court to conspiracy to commit witness tampering in connection with the Jan. 15, 2005, arson of the Harwood home of community activist Edna McAbier.

"Anyone involved in any scheme to intimidate a witness should be prepared to spend time in prison, no matter what the defendant's role is in the scheme," Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement.

According to a statement of facts as part of her plea agreement, Watkins, along with at least six others, conspired to firebomb McAbier's home because the community leader regularly reported illegal drug activities in her neighborhood to police. The group was involved in or had connections to those drugs sales, authorities said.

Members of the group threw lighted Molotov cocktails onto McAbier's home, but she was uninjured and the home sustained minimal damage.

Three others involved in the firebombing plot have been sentenced to prison terms of as much as 80 years. Three men who pleaded guilty have yet to be sentenced. Another defendant, Cedrick Bowman, 24, of Baltimore, was indicted Dec. 13 on similar charges. A tentative trial date has been set for July.

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