4-year-old girl who was beaten, raped dies

Cousin, 15, who was baby-sitting held without bail

prosecutors may file more charges

June 24, 2006|By CHRIS YAKAITIS | CHRIS YAKAITIS,SUN REPORTER

A 4-year-old girl who police said suffered a severe brain injury when she was brutally beaten and raped in a Northeast Baltimore apartment Wednesday died yesterday at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Janiya Woodley died the same day that her 15-year-old cousin -- arrested in the attack -- was ordered held without bail by a District Court judge during a brief hearing at the Central Booking and Intake Center.

Ronald Hinton, who police said was baby-sitting Janiya and her brother, has been charged with first-degree rape, assault and child abuse. Authorities now have to decide whether to file additional charges in connection with the girl's death.

FOR THE RECORD - Because of incorrect information provided by the Baltimore Police Department, articles on June 24, 25 and 27 misidentified a 4-year-old murder victim. Her name is Ja'Niya E. Williams.
The Sun regrets the errors.

"Prosecutors are reviewing the case to determine the next step," said Joseph Sviatko, a spokesman for the city state's attorney's office.

Hinton appeared briefly yesterday before District Judge Catherine Curran O'Malley wearing a double-layered white T-shirt, his hands cuffed behind his back.

Correctional officers escorted the teenager into the courtroom ahead of a larger group of suspects. While seated, Hinton bowed his head and sometimes winced.

The teenager spoke quietly with attorney Nedra Wise of the public defender's office, who then met with prosecutors and O'Malley in a private conference at the bench. About five minutes later, the judge ordered him held and recommended that he be given a psychological evaluation.

Asked if he understood the ruling, Hinton nodded slightly and said only, "Aight."

Wise would not comment on the case.

Col. Fred H. Bealefeld III, chief of detectives, said Thursday the attack took place at an apartment in the 2900 block of Goodwood Road. He described the location as the "house of another caretaker."

It was Hinton, police said, who called 911 to report that his cousin had been injured. He told police that she was bouncing on the bed and fell, and that he found her lying face down on a bedroom floor bleeding from the mouth and nose.

But according to charging documents filed in court, police believed that the severity of the girl's injuries could not have been caused by an accident.

The medical examiner "advised that these injuries were not consistent with falling off a bed onto the floor," the court records say.

The documents say that Janiya had been bitten on her chest and thigh, sexually assaulted, chased downstairs and beaten with a black belt. Police said she suffered a subdural hematoma and displayed little brain activity when brought to the hospital Wednesday afternoon.

John Bryant, Hinton's cousin, said the family stands behind the suspect and does not believe he abused Janiya. He said a fan had fallen on the young girl the day before, causing the scratches and bruises cited by police.

He said Hinton was baby-sitting Janiya and her brother for two or three days, but another adult relative had been in and out of the house several times Wednesday. "The whole thing is very confusing at this point," he said.

Bryant said the family has "had several death threats" after news of the charges. He also said Hinton's mother had her tires slashed and received "nasty notes."

Hinton's neighbors, interviewed over the past two days, have said they are too scared to give their names, pointing to what they called aggressive behavior from people in the home in the 5300 block of Morello Road.

The neighbors said several Baltimore police officers visited Hinton's home in Northeast Baltimore on Thursday night -- after Janiya had been taken to the hospital -- sweeping the yard with searchlights and later entering the house.

Agent Donny Moses, a city police spokesman, would not confirm the visit, saying that if it had occurred, it was "probably part of the ongoing investigation."

Moses did confirm that police had been sent to the block in which Hinton lived June 15 for a complaint of aggravated assault. The incident was "abated," he said, meaning no paperwork was filed.

chris.yakaitis@baltsun.com

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